Parent previously voiced his concerns about Lindbergh’s use of Best Choice

A+Lindbergh+High+School+student+speaks+to+the+new+Board+of+Education%2C+including+members+Christy+Watz+and+Matt+Alonzo%2C+right%2C+at+their+first+meeting+about+the+student%27s+experience+in+ThriVE+Best+Choice+in+middle+school.+Photo+by+Gloria+Lloyd.

A Lindbergh High School student speaks to the new Board of Education, including members Christy Watz and Matt Alonzo, right, at their first meeting about the student’s experience in ThriVE Best Choice in middle school. Photo by Gloria Lloyd.

By Mike Anthony
Executive Editor
news1@callnewspapers.com

A Lindbergh Schools parent disputed district officials’ contention that they had never received a complaint about ThriVe St. Louis’ Best Choice Program until last December.
The Rev. Dan Anderson-Little told the Call last week that he had voiced his concerns to district officials about the sex education program in a series of emails in 2011 and 2012.
Anderson-Little provided emails he had exchanged with district officials, including Superintendent Jim Simpson, beginning in January 2011, when he expressed concerns about the district contracting “with an explicitly religious organization for sex education.”
He reiterated those concerns in a series of emails the next year. In a May 7, 2012, email to then-Sperreng Middle School Associate Principal Mark Eggers and Simpson, Anderson-Little wrote, “I am still deeply troubled that a public school district uses the services of such an overtly religious group that has what I consider to be aggressive and narrowly sectarian motivations …”
In a May 10, 2012, email, Simpson wrote, “… I agree with you that sex education curriculum must be kept religious and political free. If ThriVe ever crosses the line then we will react …”
In April, Anderson-Little reiterated his concerns about Best Choice to the Board of Education.
Quoting from a 2012 ThriVe newsletter article titled, “Battle for the Classroom: Challenging Words from a Best Choice Educator,” he said, “‘… Since the days of the now-coined sexual revolution, the battle for life doesn’t only happen on the sidewalk or pregnancy resource centers, but also in thousands of classrooms nationwide where abstinence educators take a bold stance for righteousness against popular opinion …
“‘This battle is going to take all of us … to stand in the face of this spiritual battle, sword in hand, covered by the blood of Jesus, his wisdom, his strategy, his strength and his grace to usher in a new paradigm shift.”’
Anderson-Little added, “At the time, I asked Dr. Simpson how it was appropriate for a public school district to utilize the services of a group that viewed our classrooms as a battleground and was openly committed to imposing on our children a paradigm shift shaped by particular religious views. He never answered that question, only repeating that ThriVe’s content met state standards …”
District resident Caleb Friz first voiced his concerns to the school board last December that ThriVe is a Christian organization.
Since then, Friz and other representatives of Lindbergh Parents for Comprehensive Sexual Education have addressed the board on nearly a monthly basis voicing their concerns about Best Choice and urging the board to remove the program.
At the Oct. 10 Board of Education meeting, Friz presented a petition signed by 540 district residents urging the board to remove Best Choice from the district.
ThriVe Best Choice has presented a school-based abstinence curriculum for students in grades six through eight for the past nine years at no cost to the district.
District officials have said that Best Choice does not include any religious content, and that under state law, public school districts that offer sexual education classes are required to ensure that any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases will be medically and factually accurate. In addition, they are required to “present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relation to all sexual activity for unmarried pupils because it is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy …”
Lindbergh currently is in the process of reviewing the district’s health curriculum, including the sex education program.
The curriculum review is not being done in response to concerns voiced by the Lindbergh Parents for Comprehensive Sexual Education, but is part of the district’s regular cycle of curriculum review, according to Simpson.
In a statement released to the Call, Lindbergh Communications Director Beth Johnston said, “Last December marked the first time that Lindbergh Schools has seen a coordinated effort to change the health curriculum. Since then, the Board of Education has heard hours of public comment on the subject of sex education. All of that feedback is being considered as we complete the scheduled health curriculum revision process this fall.
“Lindbergh has a solid, proven curriculum revision process that we apply to all subject areas, including health, with a common goal of providing the best educational experience possible to help students be successful now and in the future. Curriculum is revised on a regular cycle, allowing administrators and teachers to examine resources, evaluate what is being taught, listen to parent feedback and make any necessary changes.
“We want all parents to know that their thoughts and concerns are being heard, and that the revised health curriculum will be one that provides all Lindbergh students with quality instruction to help them be successful adults,” Johnston concluded.