As a parent, Tawanda Freeman doesn’t want to see a sexual education curriculum that undermines what she teaches her son at home.
She is concerned the agenda of the SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens) program could do that.
Freeman said she teaches her son abstinence until marriage and disagrees with the SHIFT NC agenda she believes exposes children to “too much too soon.”
She said the community meetings held Tuesday night to inform the community about SHIFT NC and stop its presence in Onslow County were important.
“It’s sounding the alarm for our children,” Freeman said.
Freeman was among the nearly 90 people to attend the first of two community meetings hosted by Onslow Protect Our Students.
OPOS is a group of citizens that has organized in opposition to SHIFT NC, a statewide program they say is pushing a comprehensive sexual education program in Onslow County as part of an initiative to reduce teen pregnancy.
While not opposed to reducing teen pregnancy, OPOS members said SHIFT NC promotes a comprehensive sexual education agenda that radically changes the sexual and gender norms of society.
“It’s an attack on traditional marriage and family,” said OPOS co-chairman Joe Werrell.
Parent Francine Sabisch gave one of the presentations of the night, referring to content that can be found on the SHIFT NC website.
Sabisch said comprehensive sex education sexualizes and objectifies children and teens and includes hard-core pushing of free contraceptives as a means of preventing pregnancies.
She said the links and information provides information that is not appropriate and parents may find offensive. She noted a text message service readily available to youth to get information.
“Is that really how you want your child getting sex education information that should be coming from you,” Sabisch said.
OPOS members want to stop SHIFT NC from bringing programs to Onslow County.
The organization indicates its mission is leading North Carolina to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health. One of its latest efforts is North Carolina Youth Connected, an initiative launching in fall 2015 to cut teen pregnancy rates in half in Cumberland and Onslow counties by the year 2020.
OPOS is mobilizing residents and encouraging them to contact school officials and others to ensure there is not a change in the current school curriculum.
Petitions were available for participants to sign and Jacksonville resident Grace Williams was among those to sign.
She said she supports the sanctity of marriage and is against the beliefs of SHIFT NC.
“I’m very concerned about our children and them not being guided in the way I think is right,” she said.
As the first meeting came to a close, residents began gathering for the second.
Luther and Sherry Ennett of Sneads Ferry said their children are grown but with 11 grandchildren in school they wanted to attend to get as much information as possible.
“I want to get the facts,” Sherry Ennett said.