NEWS: Governor signs bill mandating sex ed in schools across California
Governor signs bill mandating sex ed in schools across California
School districts across California no longer have the option of offering sex education — as of Jan. 1, they must.
A measure signed by Gov. Jerry
Brown last week will require schools to teach everything from abstinence
to emergency contraception, and a whole lot in between, at least once in middle school and once again in high school.
Individual parents can opt out, but schools cannot.
The law ensures not only that school districts offer sex education, but that they teach a comprehensive curriculum that includes abstinence,
a range of contraceptives, issues related to sexuality and gender identity as well as “an objective discussion of all legally available pregnancy outcomes, including, but not limited to, parenting, adoption and abortion.”
The new law combines the previously required curriculum on HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education into one required set of knowledge
and skills kids should be taught before the end of eighth grade, and one they should be taught before the end of high school.
Districts can start offering the curriculum in seventh grade.
“Our schools are a critical environment for providing young people with the knowledge and skills that they will need to protect their
sexual health,” said the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley
Weber, D-San Diego, in a statement. “This is about empowering all young men and women — whatever their orientation or gender — to make the healthiest decisions possible.”
Weber’s measure also requires the curriculum to “affirmatively recognize that people have different sexual orientations and, when discussing
or providing examples of relationships and couples, shall be inclusive of same-sex relationships.”
“This legislation ensures that all students have access to medically accurate and unbiased sexual health education,” said state Superintendent
of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement. “By affirmatively recognizing that people have different sexual orientations and teaching pupils about gender identity, LGBTQ youth will be safer in school.”
The Legislature passed the measure in late September, largely along party lines, and the governor signed it Thursday with little fanfare
or immediate controversy.
Still, there were outspoken critics of the new law Monday.
“School districts now have no choice based on their own community attitudes whether sex education is appropriate and the degree of
sex ed is appropriate,” said Brad
Dacus, an attorney and president with the Pacific
Justice Institute, which focuses on cases related to religious freedom and parental rights.
The law requires districts to communicate how successfully treated HIV-positive people can have a normal life expectancy, which offers
a “positive spin” on AIDS, Dacus said.
“At no time should political agendas shortchange a straightforward and truthful education,” he said. “The controversial provisions,
without question, make this legislation a huge mistake for the health and safety and balanced truth that is needed for students in our public schools.”