Since 2007, CBS 5, a local news station, has conducted investigations into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs infiltrating public schools. Reporters found that several programs flout state law, which requires schools that choose to discuss sexuality education to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate information.1 In light of this discovery, parents and school districts are reviewing what young people are learning.
The parent of a Concord middle school student was initially happy to learn that the school would provide sex education classes. She said she was “completely comfortable” with her son learning about pregnancy and STD-prevention methods. Then, she found that the curriculum was taught by Christian evangelists and would cover only abstinence.2
District officials in Fremont, CA had similar concerns and asked the Public Health Institute, a California-based non-profit that specializes in research and training, to review its program. The school was using a program called “Await and Find,” which is the recipient of a federal grant under the Community-Based Abstinence Education funding stream. As such the program is required to follow a strict definition of “abstinence education” that clearly does not fit with California’s comprehensive law.
The Fremont District Director was distressed by the findings. “I think the implication is that [students and parents are] being deceived. And I don’t ever want anyone to be deceived,” he said.3
The California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act explicitly states that if a school opts to teach sex education beyond the HIV/AIDS requirement, it must discuss the diversity of pregnancy and STD prevention methods as well as “encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.”4
The news reports revealed that a number of schools appear to be in violation of this act. SIECUS will continue to monitor the school’s reaction to this knowledge.
- Anna Werner, “Inappropriate Sex Ed. In Calif. Public Schools?,” CBS 5, 8 February 2008, accessed 4 April 2008, < http://cbs5.com/investigates/California. sex.education.2.649014.html>
- See SIECUS State Profiles for more information on California law, http://www.siecus.org/policy/states/2006/mandates/CA.html