After a 7-year-old boy came home with his backpack full of papers, his father was shocked to discover that the teacher had placed a “condom” flier in his son’s folder. Of course, all it took was one look over the content of the announcement sheet for the protective dad to take matters into his own hands.
When children arrive home after school each day, most parents make a point to rummage through their kids’ backpacks, typically to collect unwanted lunch items or check for homework. As such, as soon as his 7-year-old son walked through the door, Rich Penkoski unzipped his boy’s bag and gathered the stack of papers he was so used to going through.
However, along with his son’s usual second-grade homework, Penkoski spotted a printed flier he’d never seen before. After reading the first few lines, the Tennessee dad couldn’t believe what his child had brought home.
Casually stuffed into his son’s homework folder was a flier with an unmistakably mature message — one that was far too graphic for a child of only 7. The leaflet, which had been printed by Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, was being used to advertise “free birth control” and “condoms” to second-graders, an announcement that the school apparently believed was appropriate for such a young age group, he explained on the Todd Starnes podcast.
“My reaction was disgust,” Pastor Rich said during an interview on the Todd Starnes Show. “My son is 7-years-old and the last thing I wanted to do was explain to my son what a condom is.”
“Free birth control including implants, IUDs, pills, condoms, and more,” the flier announced. “Free prenatal vitamins and pre-pregnancy counseling,” it continued, adding that interested parties may ask administrators about “reproductive health.” The handbill directed individuals to the Appalachian Fairgrounds but didn’t specify age restrictions or parental consent in its limited information.
“What concerns me the most is the blatant sexualizing of these children,” he said. “The complete disregard for parents in how they raise their children. Why does a 7 year old need to know what a condom or IUD is?”
As a local minister and conservative activist, Penkoski felt compelled to address the issue with officials at Mary Hughes Elementary School in Piney Flats. Likewise, Angel Davis, the mother of another 7-year-old boy who received the flier, immediately emailed the principal of the school only to receive no response.
It took Penkoski going to the media for the principal to finally address concerned parents. According to Davis, the principal explained that he had failed to read “all the way through” the flier before assigning stacks of them to teachers to give to students. However, like many who’ve seen the fliers, Davis finds it hard to believe that the principal missed the reproductive theme of the message.
Penkoski didn’t blame the medical associates for targeting children, as they merely offer basic healthcare services for underprivileged individuals and might not know that their services are being advertised to minors. However, he can’t help but wonder why the school or his son’s teacher decided that sexualized material, which a child might not understand, was appropriate to hand out to second-graders in the small town of Piney Flats.
The flier sparked so much controversy that the school announced a public school board meeting for parents and faculty to discuss the concerning material. Additionally, Penkoski and Pastor Dale Walker, the president of Tennessee Pastors Network, scheduled a press conference to take place an hour before the meeting.
Not one school official who came into contact with the fliers raised concerns over the mature nature of the content. Parents are still concerned about the intent of the school in handing out the material, and rightfully so.
With such information, children could’ve easily hidden the flier from their parents and sought out reproductive healthcare for themselves. The only question is, would medical professionals have contacted their parents if the children took them up on their offer of free contraceptives or prenatal care?