GOP House Candidate Files Complaint Over Proposed Sex Ed Program

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A Helena mother has filed a complaint saying her children will suffer “irreparable harm” if a proposed sex education program that has angered many in the community is adopted.

Kristi Allen-Gailushas filed the complaint Friday against the Helena School District and the state Office of Public Instruction. She is asking that a district judge intervene in the case.

The complaint questions the content of the curriculum and the process used to develop it. It also says the curriculum violates the Montana Constitution because it was developed without any public hearings or meetings where parents could observe and participate.

The proposal would teach fifth-graders that sexual intercourse includes “vaginal, oral, or anal penetration,” and would teach kindergartners anatomical terms for sex organs.

OPI spokeswoman Jessica Rhoades said the constitution prohibits the office from dictating such curriculum, noting that such decisions are made “100 percent on the local level.” Meanwhile, schools Superintendent Bruce Messinger said he has not seen the complaint.

After two years in the making, the curriculum committee introduced the proposal in June to the school board of trustees, at which time it became a public document. Messinger said a committee typically makes a proposal and then opens it to public comment before the board decides on the matter.

“We believe the opportunity for participation has been happening since June,” Messinger said. “We don’t think any rights have been violated here.”

He said the curriculum is currently being revised based on the public comments received, and the changes to the draft will be presented to trustees at the Sept. 14 board meeting. A public hearing is planned some time before the Oct. 12 meeting, during which the board is expected to take final action.

Allen-Gailushas, a Republican candidate for Montana House District 82, announced her complaint alongside members of the Big Sky Tea Party Association at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse. She said the curriculum was decided upon “behind closed doors.”