California parents panicked as news hit that changes were coming to the way school districts would teach sexual and reproductive education to students. According to the Associated Press, more than 200 people showed up to the state’s Department of Education to discuss the proposed changes to California’s sex education curriculum.
The bigger issue? This news was mostly fake.
The concern was that children, some as young as kindergarten, would be exposed to information about sexuality and gender identity. Additionally, it was believed that high schoolers would be given books like S.E.X: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties — a text that reportedly contains descriptions of anal sex and bondage.
California teacher Bridgett Brownell, who sits on the California Department of Education (CDE) Framework Committee, tells Parentology many of these concerns are based off targeted misinformation. She says a small group of conservatives have raised concerns about what’s being taught to children in the classroom, though largely things have remained unchanged.
“The law and the standards tell teachers what to teach and the framework suggests ways teachers might teach those standards [and] comply with the law,” Brownwell says. This gives educators information and resources on topics surrounding health and sexual education. However, Brownwell explains that the California Framework Committee hasn’t made any alterations since the California Healthy Youth Act of 2016 changed the state standards from 2008.
There are parents with concerns about the degree of detail being taught to their children in the classroom – some citing their kindergartners will be taught about sexual orientation and gender identity. Yet, on the whole, Brownwell says more than 90 percent of parents both support, and want to see, a comprehensive sex education curriculum taught in California schools.
Bronwell says fears over what the youngest students will be taught about in sexual education classes are largely unnecessary. Elementary school students will be taught age-appropriate information, like the names of body parts, and all students will be encouraged to speak with their family members, or other trusted adults, about matters pertaining to sexual health.
While the framework will address LGBT topics, it also covers other parts of comprehensive health education that include things like personal health, cancer, mental health, nutrition, and drug use.
Brownell thinks there’s room for change and growth within the health units currently being taught. She thinks sexual and reproductive education courses taught at middle and high school levels should be led by credentialed health education teachers. Additionally, she believes students would benefit from a yearlong “in-seat” middle school education course; courses she believes should be a requirement for graduation.
It would seem that some California students agree. Phoenix Ali Rajah, a 16-year-old transgender boy, told the Associated Press that it’s rare to hear information pertaining to people like him during his Los Angeles area high school’s sexual education classes. “I’m never taught about how to be in a relationship with a gay man,” Rajah said, illustrating some of the gaps currently existing for students in the state.
California Sex Education Curriculum — Sources
The Associated Press