Carolyn A. Parker, Ethical Society of Austin
The Ethical Society of Austin (ESOA) is planning to participate in the Advocacy Days preceding Reason Rally 2016 by staying home. Home in Texas, that is. While Reason Rally participants are visiting with—and lobbying—US Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC, on June 2 and 3, ESOA will do the same in Austin. Including Texas’ two senators, who both have district offices in the state’s capital, ESOA will contact five of the Congresspersons who represent Texas in DC from this heavily gerrymandered county.
The chair of ESOA’s Ethical Action Committee, Carolyn A. Parker, is working with Secular Coalition for America (SCA) to make sure that the message—put science back in school sex education programs—is the same in both Austin and DC. SCA is providing lobbying and background materials for the Austin advocates. Parker is matching constituents with their elected representatives and setting up their lobbying appointments.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA), currently represented in two bills H.R. 1706 and S. 2765, will provide nationwide consistency in sex education for youth, requiring that any curriculum used be selected based on scientific evidence that it actually works to protect and promote the health of our young people. In a state where rates of teen pregnancies and STIs continue to be among the highest in the nation, where LGBTQ students are given little support and protection under the law, and where science often takes a back seat to religion, ESOA will stand up to call for the return of reason and science to Texas curriculum.
Advocacy is not new to ESOA, but lobbying is. Says Parker, “I see lobbying as just another form of speech. It’s got a bad rep because of abuses. But lobbying on an ethical issue is an essential exercise of our right to speak up if we are to continue our advance toward a more humane society.” With the training and support that ESOA members are getting for this Ethical Action, Parker expects that they will have the skills needed to continue speaking up on other issues.
Left to right: Bob Warren (Chair of the Communications Committee), Carolyn A. Parker (Ethical Actions Committee Chair), John Thiess (Treasurer), and Susan Thiess (Ethical Action Committee member)