Sex education bill lights up debate with talk about “pleasure,” “gender identity”

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PROVIDENCE — Should Rhode Island schools be required to teach children in grades six through 12 about “pleasure based sexual relations, different sexual orientations …[and] same-sex relationships”?

Freshman Sen. Tiara Mack of Providence told colleagues last week that she believes so, despite the hatred that she says she has faced since “joining the Assembly as an unapologetically Black queer woman” and the names she has been called since proposing the sex education bill that has sparked heated debate.

Since introducing S2285, I have been subject to name-calling, hatred and false information campaigns … rooted in fear-mongering [that paint] the LBGTQ-plus community members as … dangerous to our young people,” Mack told the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. 

“Some [unidentified] politicians and their supporters have resorted to calling me “groomer,” “pedophile” and other disgusting and hurtful names.” 

“Why?” she asked rhetorically.

“It’s because I have the audacity, the integrity and the bravery to introduce legislation that says to Rhode Island’s youth and particularly our LGBTQ-plus youth, I see you and you deserve dignity, respect … and most importantly, affirming education,” said Mack, who came to the televised hearing in a T-shirt that said: “SEX(Ed).”

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