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"I'm incredibly glad this happened because it is causing a useful national movement of parents planning to audit what is REALLY being taught to their kids," said Professor Alice Dreger. (Photo: Ted Talks)

"I'm incredibly glad this happened because it is causing a useful national movement of parents planning to audit what is REALLY being taught to their kids," said Professor Alice Dreger. (Photo: Ted Talks)

Professor's Outrage at Son's "Terror-Based" Sex Education Goes Viral

Alice Dreger's live-tweets about son's high school lesson in abstinence became a national news story

Sarah Lazare

When Alice Dreger, accomplished author and professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, attended her 9th-grade son's "abstinence-based" sex education class, she was so shocked by the presenters' baseless claims that she took to social media to live-tweet her outrage.

Since then, her Twitter storm has turned into a cyclone, going so viral it has grabbed headlines in major media outlets, gotten Dreger banned from most events at her son's high school, and invigorated a national debate about the real harm done by what Dreger calls "terror-based" sex education.

The Twitter saga unfolded on Tuesday when Dreger attended the sex education class of her 14-year-old son, who is a student at East Lansing High School in Michigan—a state where public schools are required to "stress abstinence from sex" as a matter of official policy. Dreger's son wanted to show her exactly "how bad" the class was, according to her Twitter testimony.

Dreger explained that she was so shocked by the class that she could not hold back from live-tweeting from the very room where the events unfolded.

In a series of rapid fire quotes and comments, Dreger described a scene where outside presenters were brought into the school to teach kids that sex is dangerous and shameful, automatically associated with drug overdoses, unwanted pregnancies, and horrible diseases. The experiences of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer people were completely left out, said Dreger, and students were taught that science doesn't matter.

A few of Dreger's tweets are sampled below, and the full collection can be accessed here.

"Silly me!" Dreger later wrote in a detailed account of the experience, published in The Stranger. "I have been teaching my son that if a girl says no, you exit politely and get the hell out of her space."

But it did not stop there.

Colby Fletcher, the principal of East Lansing High School, denounced Dreger as displaying an "utter lack of civility." Furthermore, Dreger's public exposure of the "educational" setting, as well as an angry exchange with the presenters, has real consequences for her and her family:

Nonetheless, Dreger told the Huffington Post, "I'm incredibly glad this happened because it is causing a useful national movement of parents planning to audit what is REALLY being taught to their kids."

Furthermore, Alice Dreger is not the only person in her family the school must contend with. Her son has also been working to debunk the myths taught in the class, including by passing out scientifically-based studies to his peers. "His goal was to teach the other kids some of the truth, and also to let them know it’s okay to challenge authority," wrote Dreger in The Stranger.

And on Wednesday, Dreger tweeted that her son is motivated to pursue science-based education of his own in the aftermath of what has become a national news story:


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