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Keller @ Large: Take a closer look at Rayla Campbell's claims about sex education in Massachusetts

Keller @ Large: Rayla Campbell's claims about sex education in Mass. don't hold up
Keller @ Large: Rayla Campbell's claims about sex education in Mass. don't hold up 03:12

BOSTON -- Rayla Campbell, the presumptive Republican nominee for Secretary of State in Massachusetts, is making news for comments that shocked some of the delegates at the recent state party convention.

In her speech last Saturday, Campbell used vulgar language to claim public school fifth graders were being urged to perform sex acts with each other. And while the graphic language she used has since been repudiated by the convention's nominee for governor, Geoff Diehl, as "not appropriate," Campbell pressed her case Tuesday during an impromptu interview with WBZ-TV photojournalist Chris Gobeille.

Brandishing a copy of the graphic novel "Gender Queer" as evidence, Campbell said "this is not sexual education, this is child porn and sex trafficking. This book is being pushed out in our public schools."

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The book "Gender Queer." CBS Boston

Actually, the book about teens and young adults grappling with their sexual identity is not part of any known public school curriculum, but has been dropped by many libraries around the country after activists made it an issue.

We asked Megara Bell, who helps public school systems develop sexual health education programs as director of the Newton-based organization Partners in Sex Education, to assess some of Campbell's other assertions.

"[Gender Queer] is being taught to children and asked to read out loud," Campbell claimed.

"That's absolutely revolting," Bell told WBZ-TV. "The idea that they make up these things to push some kind of agenda, that is completely divorced from reality. She needs to get her mind out of the gutter."

Campbell said, "When parents are requesting to know what's going on with the sex education within the school system, their voices are being suppressed. They're being labeled as domestic terrorists for just enquiring about what their children are being taught."

Bell responded, "Families, caregivers have an option to review what's in the curriculum, see whether they feel like it's going to be appropriate for their child, and then they have the option to opt-out, and that's true for all public schools in Massachusetts."

You can expect to see much more of this kind of rhetoric during this campaign year. We saw in the Virginia governor's race last year how angry many parents were at local school officials over their handling of shutdowns and remote learning during the worst of the pandemic.

Republicans here and elsewhere want to capitalize on that by adding sexual health education to the mix with the broad claim that there's "indoctrination" of school kids into a world of sexual lifestyles they find repugnant. Right-wing media is full of these kinds of claims, so buyers beware.

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