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Signs on the door of a kindergarten classroom in Milwaukee welcome students on the first day of school in 2014. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Signs on the door of a kindergarten classroom in Milwaukee welcome students on the first day of school in 2014. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Signs on the door of a kindergarten classroom in Milwaukee welcome students on the first day of school in 2014. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher February 27, 2017

No evidence for PAC's claim that Tammy Baldwin 'wants to require children' to 'learn about gay sex'

The sexuality of Tammy Baldwin, the nation’s first openly gay U.S. senator, is under attack by a group that says it wants to unseat her in an election that is 21 months away.

Restore American Freedom and Liberty goes personal on the Wisconsin Democrat as part of what it says is an effort to draft conservative Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. to run against her in 2018.

In a fundraising email revealed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Feb. 16, 2017, the group calls Baldwin a "pervert" and "disgusting." It also uses extreme language in claiming Baldwin "wants to require children starting at age 5 to learn about gay sex!"

That claim caught our attention.

The group

The Denver-based Restore American Freedom and Liberty, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, is a so-called Carey committee -- a "hybrid" political action committee that is not affiliated with a candidate and can operate as a traditional PAC, contributing funds to a candidate's committee, and as a super PAC, which makes independent expenditures.

The Journal Sentinel reported that Restore American Freedom and Liberty is one of four pro-Clarke groups that drop the names of popular politicians in fundraising appeals but then use the cash primarily on consultants, not candidates.

Denver attorney Alexander Hornaday, the treasurer for the group, did not reply to our email and phone requests for information to back up the group’s attack on Baldwin. According to the Denver Post, Hornaday is a gay Republican who was a leader of the Colorado chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, which represents gay conservatives.

The attack

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Since Restore American Freedom and Liberty didn’t respond to us, we’re left to search for what its claim might be alluding to. We found three pieces of legislation backed by Baldwin, none of which became law, that are possibilities in that they all pertained to gay students.

Orientation surveys: In 2010, as a member of the U.S. House, Baldwin introduced a bill that would have required a federal agency to request sexual orientation data in health-related national surveys it does. But the bill did not have any requirement to teach children about gay sex.

Bullying in schools: In 2015, Baldwin co-sponsored a bill to require states to direct their local educational agencies to establish policies that prevent and prohibit bullying. The bill states that students have been singled out for bullying based on various factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Again, no requirement to teach about sex.

Sex education: In 2016, Baldwin co-sponsored a bill that would, among other things, require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award grants for training teachers and staff to teach age-appropriate comprehensive sex education to elementary and secondary school students. For the elementary students, the teaching would be aimed at "broadening student knowledge about issues related to human development, relationships, personal skills and sexual behavior, including abstinence." None of the grants could be given to programs that "are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active youth or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth."

So, that legislation provides financial incentives to teach sex education in a manner that is inclusive of gay students. But it’s not a requirement. It’s a grant program that school districts can choose to apply for. What’s more, it is for elementary and high school students, not targeted at kindergarteners.

Indeed, the bill dictates the education be age appropriate, making it highly unlikely that 5-year-olds would be taught about sex acts.

Our rating

Restore American Freedom and Liberty says Baldwin "wants to require children starting at age 5 to learn about gay sex!"

The group did not reply to our requests for information that would back the statement. And we could not find any evidence that Baldwin supports such a requirement.

If information surfaces that was available when the group made its claim and it is relevant, we could reconsider this fact check. But in the meantime, we rate the statement False.

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Says Tammy Baldwin "wants to require children starting at age 5 to learn about gay sex!"
In a fund-raising email
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our Sources

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bice: Out-of-state groups cash in on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke," Feb. 16, 2017

Interview, Tammy Baldwin campaign spokesman Scott Spector, Feb. 22, 2017

Denver Post, "I told you so, says gay Colorado Republican on civil unions," Jan. 24, 2013

Washington Examiner, "Wisconsin Democrat warns GOP about making senator's sexuality a campaign issue," Feb. 16, 2017

Congress.gov, "Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2016," accessed Feb. 21, 2017

Congress.gov, "Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2015," accessed Feb. 21, 2017

Email, Advocates for Youth director of communications Emily Bridges, Feb. 22, 2017

Email, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan spokesman David Kolovson, Feb. 22, 2017

PolitiFact National, National Organization for Marriage says Massachusetts public schools teach kindergartners about gay marriage

Email, Human Rights Watch’s Yale Law School Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights fellow Ryan Thoreson, Feb. 21, 2017

Email, Human Rights Campaign deputy communications director Liz Halloran, Feb. 21, 2017

Interview, Human Rights Campaign government affairs director David Stacy, Feb. 22, 2017

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More by Tom Kertscher

No evidence for PAC's claim that Tammy Baldwin 'wants to require children' to 'learn about gay sex'

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