Abstinence, Plenty of Rest: Sex Education in California Town
Two parents, a chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network have filed a lawsuit against the Clovis Unified School District over its high school sex education curriculum, on the grounds that it violates state law by only teaching about abstinence without instructing students about condoms and contraception.
The lawsuit alleges that the abstinence-only curriculum endangers students’ health by “denying them accurate information about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies,” says the Los Angeles Times. Under California’s law, sex education in public schools must be “comprehensive, medically accurate, bias-free, and appropriate for students of all sexual orientations,” says AFP (via Raw Story).
A 2007 federal-funded study found that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs “have no beneficial impact on young peopleís sexual behavior”. Indeed, AFP points out that “states with sex ed and health classes that stress ‘abstinence-only’ education†rank the highest in the numbers of underage pregnancies.”
As Aubree Smith, one of the parents who filed the lawsuit and the mother of a 17-year-old in the school district, says: “Our kids need complete, accurate information to help them protect themselves against STDs and unintended pregnancy. Thatís information theyíll need at whatever point in their life they become sexually active.”
Clovis School District’s Offensive and Misleading Sex Ed Curriculum
The Clovis Unified School District is located in the central valley country of Fresno and serves about 39,000 students. A district spokeswoman, Kelly Avants, defended the curriculum, saying that it indeed complies with California state law that “promotes abstinence” as “the only 100% surefire way to prevent pregnancy”; she declined to comment about the curriculum’s omission of information about condoms and contraception.
According to the lawsuit, the Clovis school district uses a textbook that says that the ways students can avoid getting sexually transmitted diseases are “respecting themselves, getting plenty of rest, going out as a group and practicing abstinence” — condoms are not mentioned — notes AFP.
Some of the curriculum’s materials are simply offensive as they “compare a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe and suggest that men are unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused.”
That’s the sort of information a public school district in California in the 21st century is calling “sex education”?
“Preventing pregnancy” education is not the same thing as sex education and a curriculum promoting misogynistic viewpoints is completely inappropriate, not to mention devoid of educational merit.
Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network, underscored how the Clovis school district’s ignoring the law puts ďall students at risk and particularly harm[s] lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, who need unbiased information to make healthy decisions.Ē
The American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are representing the parents, the AAP of California District IX and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
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