California Parents Protest School District’s Graphic Sex Ed Curriculum For Tweens

sex ed curriculum

Some parents in the San Diego Unified School District are none-too pleased with a new sex ed curriculum called “Rights, Respect, Responsibility,” calling it “extreme” as well as “overly explicit and discriminatory.” In an article for the California Family Council, concerned mom Amy Haywood says the SDUSD board tried to downplay the protest of concerned parents at their recent meeting, saying “[Superintendent Kevin] Beiser took it upon himself to visit the KUSI local TV station to tell staff the rally wasn’t worth covering because ‘just a handful of people would be protesting,’ according to reporter KUSI Ashlie Rodriguez.”

Well, Beiser was wrong, as more than a hundred parents showed up to protest, and after seeing screen shots of some of this curriculum, I can see why they are fired up! The middle school curriculum, intended for eleven, twelve, and thirteen year old kids, not only teaches about high-risk sexual behaviors like having unprotected sex, but it also offers “safer” alternatives like
bathing together, mutual masturbation, and solo masturbation. Ummm…do you really want your tween learning about this in a sex ed classroom full of peers? I don’t!

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sex ed curriculum
Photo: California Family Council

But that’s not all! One mom of two middle schoolers, Ashley Bever, lodged her protest about the sex ed curriculum’s explicit nature while speaking at the school board meeting, revealing more of what her kids are being taught way too soon.

“This is an extreme curriculum for comprehensive sex ed,” Bever told the SDUSD board members. “It basically tells our kids that even though the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that early initiation of sexual activity is associated with more partners, not using condoms, teen pregnancy, and more infections—the curriculum tells our middle schoolers the complete opposite. Mutual masturbation, dry sex. Try a flavored condom. No condom? Try pulling out—it’s as effective at preventing pregnancies.”

The truth is, sex ed should begin AT HOME, and families of faith should be allowed to have their kids opt out of any curriculum that goes against their religious belief, however their kids also have the right to public education and an appropriate more fact-based sex ed curriculum within the public school setting.  Haywood contends that the SDUSD’s Sexual Health Education Program, or SHEP, discriminates against those with religious values. A local pastor, Milton Chambers from New Hope Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, spoke before the board meeting, saying he believes SHEP is “profoundly offensive.” He urged the school district to be inclusive of faith communities, including Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian families. His speech (watch below) was greeted with cheers from parents chanting “TOO MUCH, TOO SOON!” about the curriculum.

Photo: California Family Council

The SHEP curriculum itself proves Pastor Chambers’ point about discrimination against religions with conservative beliefs about sex. Amy Haywood’s article says,

The curriculum’s Lesson 9, “STD Smarts,” confirms Milton’s point. Students are given a homework assignment and asked to visit two website links.  Revealing the curriculum’s total bias against Christian values, the assignment reads: “One site provides accurate information that respects teens, and the other tries to scare and shame teens out of doing anything sexual with another person until they’re married.” One of the links features one of the country’s most well known Christian abstinence teachers, Pam Stenzel, giving a lecture about the dangers of STDs. The other links to Sex, etc. where students can read interviews of straight and gay students praising the use of condoms to prevent STDs when having “penile-vaginal sex” or “penile-anal sex.”

Whether or not you agree with the abstinence speaker’s message or delivery style, the homework’s instructions and questions are clearly manipulative, and designed to lead students to conclude that the abstinence-only educator was backwards, untruthful, and did not respect children.

sex ed curriculum

Another parent in the district, Carleen Graham, agrees whole-heartedly with “TOO MUCH, TOO SOON,” and she pulled no punches when she spoke before the school board, saying:

“Yes, they can access sexually explicit content on the TV, the internet, their phones and friends, but if the people in authority positions in their life—the teachers—are providing graphic and detailed information on oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, mutual masturbation—with easy internet links to cartoon pornography like it’s no big deal, this confuses a child’s moral compass,” Grantham told the school board. “It will encourage kids to experiment even more, to explore pornography and to try the sexual behaviors deemed as medium risk and even high risk. A pill or a condom cannot protect against the emotional hazards of premature sexual activity. Commonsense should tell us that this is not good for our children and will result in damaging and unhealthy attitudes about sex. Board members, do you want to be responsible for this?”

Haywood also reports that Latino parents, whose students make up about 47% of the school district, are opposed to the curriculum as well, saying “Esther Valdez, an immigration attorney in San Diego and school board trustee in Coronado, spoke at the pre-meeting rally on behalf of the Latin African American Chaplain Association and the Christian Unity Chaplains. She believes that SDUSD’s SHEP disregards the religious beliefs and culture of Latinos.” Valdez said:

As Latinos, we are people of faith. … We are people who believe in God and we believe it is our God-given right and our authority, which we have not abdicated, to grant our faith and instill our values with regard to sexual education for our children. What San Diego Unified School District has implemented here has unleashed a torrent throughout the community. Not just throughout the Christian evangelical community, the Latino community, but also the African immigrant population.  Muslim immigrants are also in objection to that.”

I don’t know what the outcome of their protests will be, but I certainly support these parents in speaking out! There should, at the VERY LEAST, be an opt-out option for families of faith who disagree with this sex ed curriculum, and preferably, a move to a more middle-of-the road curriculum that lacks bias and is not as explicit. It should be a parent’s choice when their young kids learn about MATURE topics like anal sex and masturbation — not the school district’s.

What do you think of this sex ed curriculum? Too much too soon, or “that’s just the way it is”??


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.