As parents and caregivers of children who are past and current participants in Oak Park’s Our Whole Lives (Oak Park OWL) sexuality education program, we have been horrified to see the attacks on a facilitator of the program. Some of us have been facilitators ourselves. We choose to send our children to Oak Park OWL because we believe in comprehensive, consent-driven, holistic, and inclusive education about healthy relationships, bodily autonomy and safety, and gender and sexual identity. We also value how this education helps children learn the values of inclusion, respect, and diversity that must be central to our community.
Disturbingly, the attacks on the facilitator were not an isolated incident; the previous week’s workshop on gender equity, organized by District 97’s DivCo, was also disrupted by hateful language and images. We have watched with alarm as efforts driven by ignorance and disinformation, such as “Don’t Say Gay” bills, are growing.
Rather than harming children, as the facilitator was accused of for her Oak Park OWL work, she and other volunteers are protecting our children with life-saving information about the range of human experience of gender and sexuality, making healthy choices about themselves and their bodies, and respecting the boundaries of others. The education they receive through Oak Park OWL augments and strengthens the conversations we have at home with them. Some of our children have participated multiple times because Oak Park OWL offers developmentally appropriate education for kindergarten through ninth grade.
We write not only to express support for the volunteers — many parents themselves — who run Oak Park OWL. We also call for vigilance against a minority who endanger children with their ignorance, and whose actions do not and should not reflect the inclusiveness our community values.
You can find out about upcoming classes for kids and volunteer opportunities on their website; as a nonprofit, Oak Park OWL also accepts donations.
Please join us in standing up not just for Oak Park OWL, but all children in our community and for creating a world in which all people are free to be themselves, to be safe, and to belong.
Parents and caregivers
Oak Park OWL