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HVA student sparks planned parenthood rally

Several parents of Knox County Schools students have organized a group, Concerned Knox County Parents, and have made it their mission to expunge Planned Parenthood from KCS’s list of approved guest speakers.

The group has gained a powerful political ally — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

Parents and members of the diocese met Thursday, Jan. 27, at Sacred Heart Cathedral School to discuss a plan of action.

The movement began last October when Planned Parenthood gave a presentation in Hardin Valley Academy’s lifetime health and wellness class without having sent the appropriate parental consent forms to parents.

A student in the class, Alaynna McCormick, shared the Planned Parenthood website,, with her mother, Kymberly McCormick.

“My daughter came home with a pretty explicit website that we did not consent for,” McCormick said.

She showed a slide presentation of the Planned Parenthood website on which question and answer segments offered frank and explicit answers to questions about a variety of topics, including “outercourse,” which is described as anything other than intercourse and is considered abstinence.

“My daughter was given this information in the safety and confines of the classroom at school, and we never left the website they provided them at school,” McCormick said.

Melissa Copelan, KCS director of Public Affairs, said the website was written on the white board as a resource for more information, but was never accessed in class.

KCS superintendent Dr. James McIntyre agreed parents should have been notified in advance of the presentation.

“That was, I think, a really unfortunate error. But these types of things, when they happen, we try to rectify them and make sure they do not happen again.”

HVA has agreed that Planned Parenthood will not be used in its wellness classes again this semester, but the group remains on a KCS list of approved speakers.

McIntyre said a committee will take another look at the materials used in the family life curriculum by all outside presenters and will decide “within a few weeks” if the organization will be removed from the list.

Sex education is a mandated part of the high school curriculum for all Tennessee schools. The curriculum states, “Students should understand reproduction, contraception and alternatives for unplanned pregnancies.”

According to the curriculum alternatives include adoption, single parenting, marriage and abortion. Lifetime wellness classes also are expected to cover abstinence as a positive choice.

Alaynna McCormick spoke at the meeting about Planned Parenthood’s avoidance of presenting abstinence as an option.

“When I was in the classroom the first thing that really upset me was that they didn’t mention abstinence at all,” Alaynna said.

“When I went home and I started researching this stuff with my mom, I was a little more upset.

“The entire point of the Planned Parenthood website is to tell kids that sex is OK when you are ready. That it is all open to you and that it is going to help your relationship if both you and your partner agree. Of all my friends, every single one of them who is sexually active is unhappy with their sex lives. Every single one of them felt dirty and used afterward,” she said.

McIntyre said the parent’s concerns will be taken into account with the committee.

“Anytime a parent expresses concerns, I feel that is a valid concern,” he said.

“What I did hear were some concerns about the organization and its website. What I did not hear were concerns about the actual presentation of the curriculum in our classrooms.”

Planned Parenthood of East Tennessee issued a statement regarding the matter.

“The curriculum we offer is approved by Knox County Schools, is evidence-based and age appropriate and adheres to the state-mandated lifetime wellness standards.”

Of major concern to the parents present at the meeting was Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices and its policies on parental involvement.

Concerned parent Lisa Morris said, “Planned Parenthood is the number one provider of abortions in the United Sates. And that is where they make their money.”

She added that the organization is not about abstinence, but rather “instruction and encouragement.”

“Planned Parenthood has a complete and total contempt for parental rights,” she said.

A petition was circulated at the meeting and Paul Simoneau, director of the diocesan Justice and Peace Office, urged all parents to call their KCS School Board representatives and let their voices be heard on the matter.


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