A school district in California found itself in hot water this week when the California District of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network filed suit in Fresno County Superior Court, alleging that Clovis Unified School District puts its teens' health at risk by advocating an abstinence-only sexual education curriculum, the Associated Press reports.
In a press release, the ACLU, which is representing the plaintiffs, detailed some of the classroom materials used in the district, including an instructional video that compares "a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe."
Now, in a connection sure not to help the district's case, Jezebel reports that the dirty shoe video was made by Project SOS, a Florida-based organization founded by Pam Mullarkey.
Mullarkey, who at one time also served as president of the Florida Abstinence Education Association, and has been linked in the past to Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa. Ssempa is known for being the face of Uganda's anti-homosexuality movement and is a vocal supporter of the country's so-called "Kill the Gays" legislation.
On Ssempa's old website, Mallarkey contributed a fawning statement of support, calling the pastor a "the most powerful voice for abstinence in the world," and a man of "passion, charisma, and character," Jezebel points out.
Project SOS (Strengthening Our Students) has received more than $6.5 million dollars in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the past decade, according to the Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS). Founded in 1993, Project SOS is run out of Jacksonville, Fla., and is listed on the TAGGS site as a non-profit class of organization.
In 2011, the Florida Independent tracked down Mullarkey and questioned her about her ties to the controversial church leader. In a phone interview, Mullarkey denied any knowledge of Ssempa's "Kill the Gays" bill. The paper sent Mullarkey news articles and videos, including a YouTube clip in which Ssempa alleges that homosexuals eat feces.
Mullarkey initially told the Independent that Ssempa was a "change agent" and that homosexuals in Africa "have destroyed people’s lives.” However, she later clarified her original statements, asserting that while, "I don’t believe the allegations made about Pr. Ssempa, and he has categorically denied them, I wish to dissociate and distance myself from the allegations of genocide, violence against gays which are attributed to Dr. Martin Ssempa in the US media."
Under a California law enacted in 2004, public school sex ed is required to be comprehensive, unbiased and appropriate for students of all sexual orientations.
“Young people, experts, and legislators have agreed that schools must provide comprehensive and relevant sex ed in order to keep California’s students healthy,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network, in an article on Raw Story. “By ignoring the law, Clovis schools put all students at risk and particularly harm lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, who need unbiased information to make healthy decisions.”
A national study released in 2007 concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of President George W. Bush's social agenda, did not prevent teenage sexual activity, according to the Washington Post.