Fox revives campaign-era smear that Obama “supports sex ed for kindergarteners”

Fox attempted to revive the thoroughly misleading claim that President Obama “supports sex ed for kindergarteners.” In fact, while state senator in Illinois, Obama supported a bill that provided “age-appropriate,” scientifically based sex education in schools, but it would not have taught “explicit sex education to children in kindergarten.”

Fox resurrects campaign smear that Obama “supports sex ed for kindergarteners”

Fox radio host Starnes: “Obama Supports Kindergarten Sex Ed.” In a July 13 post on his blog, titled “Obama Supports Kindergarten Sex Ed,” Fox News radio host Todd Starnes wrote that "[i]n 2007 then-Senator Barack Obama said he supported sex education for kindergartners -- calling it 'the right thing to do.' " He added:

It also became an issue during the 2008 presidential campaign. Sen. John McCain produced an ad that said, “Obama's one accomplishment? Legislation to teach 'comprehensive sex education' to kindergarteners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”

Fox Nation asks: “Obama Supports Sex Ed for Kindergarteners?” On July 13, the Fox Nation linked to Starnes' post with the headline, “Obama Supports Sex Ed for Kindergarteners?” From the Fox Nation:

In fact, Obama supports “age-appropriate” sex ed, which would not include “teaching explicit sex to” kindergartners

Obama supported Illinois state Senate bill that provided “age-appropriate” sex education for all grades, including kindergarten, and allowed parents to opt their children out. As has noted:

[The] bill Obama supported in the Illinois state Senate to update the sex education curriculum and make it “medically accurate.” It would have lowered the age at which students would begin what the bill termed “comprehensive sex education” to include kindergarten. But it mandated the instruction be “age-appropriate” for kindergarteners when addressing topics such as sexually transmitted diseases. The bill also would have granted parents the opportunity to remove their children from the class without question.

Bill would have also “called for all sex education course materials to include information that would help students recognize ... inappropriate touching, sexual assault and rape.” FactCheck also reported that "[t]he bill also called for all sex education course materials to include information that would help students recognize, among other activities, inappropriate touching, sexual assault and rape." FactCheck reported that "[i]n a debate with Republican Alan Keyes, against whom Obama was running for an open seat in the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama made it clear that at least one reason he supported the bill was that it would help teach young kids to recognize inappropriate behavior and pedophiles." FactCheck then cited the following exchange:

Keyes, Oct. 21, 2004: Well, I had noticed that, in your voting, you had voted, at one point, that sex education should begin in kindergarten, and you justified it by saying that it would be “age-appropriate” sex education. [It] made me wonder just exactly what you think is “age-appropriate.”

Obama: We have a existing law that mandates sex education in the schools. We want to make sure that it's medically accurate and age-appropriate. Now, I'll give you an example, because I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean. And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age. So, that's the kind of stuff that I was talking about in that piece of legislation.

Obama “does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten.” In an October 2004 Daily Herald article, Obama reportedly said that he " 'does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten ... The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information ... 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it ... 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.' "

Obama's support for legislation was distorted in both his 2004 Senate race and 2008 presidential campaign. As FactCheck noted, the allegation surfaced both during Obama's 2004 Senate race against Keyes and during his 2008 presidential race against Sen. John McCain.