Some Parents Voice Concerns Over “Accurate Demonstration Of Embryonic Development” In Public School Curriculum

Image Credit: LiveAction / YouTube

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Some parents are expressing concerns over a new law requiring Tennessee public school students watch a video showing fetal development as a part of their family life curriculum.

Note: Current Tennessee law allows parents to opt their children out of family life curriculum.

Governor Bill Lee recently signed the “Baby Olivia” Act, mandating the inclusion of the almost three-minute-long video, with either animation or ultrasound.

Parents in Johnson City Schools are among those speaking out after the school system made adjustments to their family life curriculum to meet those new state requirements.

According to school officials, the “Meet Baby Olivia” video, produced by pro-life advocacy group Live Action, has been incorporated into that curriculum.

Some parents argue that, while they do not necessarily have an issue with the “faith-based” perspective being included, they also feel that a more scientific approach should be given as well. They also feel that students should be allowed to ask questions and work through what they felt was accurate.

Prior to the legislation being signed into law, during a Senate committee meeting, sponsor Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16) said that “a family life curriculum that directly or indirectly addresses human growth, human development, human sexuality would be incomplete if it didn’t show the very beginning of that life, which is at conception.”

Critics of Live Action’s “Meet Baby Olivia” animation have argued that the video is “unscientific and emotionally manipulative” and in no way neutral. These same critics object to the idea “that fetuses are people” and take issue with calling abortion a moral evil.

Live Action’s video depicts milestone events in early fetal development including a detectable heartbeat 22 days from time of conception and brain activity at 6 weeks post fertilization.

House sponsor Representative Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood-District 61) has said that the video has been reviewed by physicians who say it is “a completely accurate demonstration of embryonic development.”

Those physicians include Dr. David Bolender – PhD in Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy – and Michelle Cretella, MD, who is the Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians. A bioethics nonprofit – Endowment for Human Development – was the source of the information presented in the animation.

David Timbs, Supervisor for Secondary and Instructional Technology, stated that the curriculum updates also include a greater emphasis on human trafficking awareness and recognizing unhealthy relationships.

The course will be team-taught with both a male and female educator, along with a counselor who will be present when the group talks about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships.

The course will provide an overview of reproductive health, along with information about the effects of sexual activity, prenatal development, and caring for an infant. State law requires that information be presented from a pro-abstinence perspective.

School officials say that a number of different school departments, including anatomy and child development, worked together to create the finalized curriculum. 

“We feel like we’ve had a lot of perspectives and a lot of voice into what we’re putting in front of students,” said Timbs.

Some parents have stated that they want to review the material before allowing their students to do so. Johnson City Schools has made that available at their Central Office for any parent who wishes to do so. They also welcome parental feedback.

The Board of Education will look at the material and consider feedback from parents at their June 3rd meeting.

One thought on “Some Parents Voice Concerns Over “Accurate Demonstration Of Embryonic Development” In Public School Curriculum

  • May 16, 2024 at 2:57 am

    This curriculum sounds great and as a retired teacher of middle school students I think it has been carefully thought out. Students at that age know a lot about reproduction but not enough about the complete development of a human being. Teachers need to feel comfortable teaching this and available to answer questions.


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