Of all the states in this great nation, Idaho is not exactly well-known for being a bastion of progressive sexual politics. And yet, last week the Gem State somehow, improbably, became the center of a right-wing moral panic, all focused on a claim that the government was funding sex-ed programs that teach something called “porn literacy” to eight-year-olds.

This claim started circulating last week, when the education director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a right-wing think tank, posted it on Twitter. “Idaho’s government offers ‘porn literacy’ to students, Planned Parenthood curriculum and advocates for abortion,” education director Anna Kate Miller tweeted. “If this can happen in Idaho, it can happen anywhere.”

In an article posted to the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s website, Miller alleges that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) funds an organization called Education, Training and Research, which offers a sex education curriculum called Reducing the Risk. The article alleges that the curriculum “involves instruction on ‘kink and power, pleasure, sexual identity, sexual acts, and sexual exploration in relation to pornography’” and is offered to children ages K-12. To bolster this point, the tweet included footage from what appears to be a Zoom meeting about the nefarious Idaho government’s plot to indoctrinate children:

The claim that Idaho schools are teaching children “porn literacy” was catnip to people like Christopher Rufo, a right-wing activist who invented the panic over critical race theory; and Chaya Raichik, the creator of the far-right account Libs of TikTok. Both Rufo and Raichik promoted claims the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s claims, with the Libs of TikTok account tweeting that “Idaho state is using tax dollars to teach 8-year-olds ‘porn literacy.’”

The rumor even made it all the way to Laura Ingraham, who regurgitated it on her Fox News show. “Over the years, right under parents’ noses, these deviant organizations burrowed into our culture and into our schools. They vacuumed up multimillion dollar contracts to flood our schools with values that are directly at odds with what most parents are teaching their children at home.” (For what it’s worth, more than 89 percent of parents of high school students support some form of sex education in schools regardless of their political affiliation, according to a 2017 study polling more than 1,600 parents.)

The moral panic over Idaho’s “porn literacy” program was extremely reminiscent of similar panics over other supposed indoctrination efforts in public schools, mostly focusing on LGBTQ issues. In June, for instance, a children’s book called Big Wig, about a young boy who dons a magical wig, became the center of a culture war firestorm after Pizza Hut started including the book in its school literacy programs, prompting far-right accounts on social media to call for a boycott of the restaurant chain. And last month, right-wing accounts were similarly incensed by a video of a pole dancer at a Pride event in North Carolina helping a small boy balance on a pole, leading many to harass her and accuse her of “grooming” the boy.

In this case, the claims made by the Idaho Freedom Foundation were largely incorrect. As the AP reported, the Idaho Department for Health and Welfare released a statement saying it does not support or fund any “porn literacy” for children in Idaho. It does offer the Reducing the Risk curriculum as an optional sex education curriculum, but it is only offered in about 14 schools statewide, and doesn’t discuss porn literacy; the video posted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation was not shown to students, but was intended as a teaching resource for educators navigating kids’ questions about sexuality.

Most importantly, the Reducing the Risk curriculum (which, again, is optional and requires parental consent, according to the IDHW) is not geared at eight-year-olds but older middle and high school students between grades eight and 12 — well past the age when data shows that kids are most likely to have first viewed porn, regardless of whether they are actively seeking it out or not, simply because of how omnipresent it is on the internet.

Considering that data shows that 93 percent of college-aged males say they’ve seen porn before the age of 18 — and that porn has a demonstrable, and sometimes negative, impact on young people’s view of sex and sexuality — a class teaching porn literacy may very well be useful for young people navigating the wilds of the internet. But it’s not being taught in Idaho, and it’s certainly not being taught to small children, regardless of what paranoid conservatives may want you to believe.

On this week’s episode of Don’t Let This Flop, Rolling Stone‘s podcast about internet news and culture, cohosts Brittany Spanos and Ej Dickson discuss the Idaho porn literacy panic, as well as Adam Levine’s myriad Instagram DM scandals, Lea Michele’s introduction to TikTok, and why Wisconsin may be the hottest tourist destination of 2023.

Don’t Let This Flop is released Wednesdays on all audio streaming platforms, including Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon MusicStitcher and more.

Lifestyle

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Los Angeles Daily Covid Cases Hit 4,352, Up 43% In Past Week & Highest Total In Nearly 4 Months
Fox News Parts Ways With Lara Trump As Her Father-In-Law Starts Presidential Campaign
Big Daddy Kane Says ‘New Jack City’ Play Will Host Mario Van Peebles
Affion Crockett Says Will Smith Deserves Oscar Buzz for ‘Emancipation’
Raphael Warnock Defeats Herschel Walker In Georgia Runoff, Giving Democrats 51-49 Senate Majority

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *