Kansas Counties Seek Sex-Ed Funding After State Declines Federal Grants

Published August 29, 2016

Two of Kansas’ most populous counties, Johnson and Wyandotte, are looking for a combined total of almost $500,000 to continue funding their schools’ sex-education programs.

The two counties have been receiving funds for sex-ed courses since 2010 through a federal grant called the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), a creation of the Affordable Care Act.

In June, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) officials told Johnson and Wyandotte, the only counties in the state using PREP money, KDHE wouldn’t be reapplying for the grant.

Cassie Sparks, a KDHE spokeswoman, told the Kansas Health Institute in June, “Removing KDHE as the coordinator would allow for direct interactions between the true grantee and the grantor, thereby removing KDHE as the intermediary.”

PREP will fund the sex-ed programs through 2017. In July, Greg Stephenson, a personal health services manager with the Wyandotte County Public Health Department, told the Kansas City Star, “We’re not sure what we’re going to do.”

Grants Have ‘Strings Attached’

State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) says federal grants come with unforeseen obligations.

“Federal grants pose several problems,” Pilcher-Cook said. “Rarely are federal funds received without strings attached, and if the strings are not there to begin with, they are added after the entity has become dependent on the money. The funding mechanism then becomes a method of coercion. If the entity wants to continue receiving the money, it either has to comply with objectionable regulations, or it has to spend additional money and resources to comply with unnecessary regulations.”

Prior Sex-Ed Complaints

Mark Ellis is a Kansas parent and former school board candidate who made headlines in 2014 for objecting to a poster in his 13-year-old daughter’s classroom titled “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings?” which listed sexual activities such as “anal sex,” “oral sex,” and “vaginal intercourse,” directed at middle school students.

Ellis says it’s not the government’s place to teach kids about sexuality.

“The federal government doesn’t have any business in local schools,” Ellis said. “It’s simple: When the federal government gets involved, [the poster] is what happens. This poster is what came from the federal government dictating sex ed in our public schools.”

Fed Government ‘Has an Agenda’

Jim Sedlak, executive director of the American Life League and founder of Stop Planned Parenthood International, says the federal government should not be involved in teaching sex education.

“I applaud Kansas for cutting off from federal money for sex education, because the federal government, especially under the current administration, has an agenda, [which] is to push national sexuality education standards,” Sedlak said. “To mandate from Washington, DC what every school district in the nation must teach regarding sex education is horrible.”

Pilcher-Cook says it’s a parent’s job to teach kids about sex.

“Because sex education is so integral to the development of the human person, it is crucial that parents have full control over the subject matter,” Pilcher-Cook said. “Too many times, it has been reported by parents that controversial and offensive material has been added without their knowledge.”

Michael McGrady ([email protected]writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.