By Amy Haywood,
Parental Warning: Some of the content within this article is sexually graphic and not suitable for minors.
Parents in school districts from all over Orange County are rising up to protest new sex education materials that school administrators say fulfill the mandates of AB 329, the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA). Despite what public school officials say, these parents and some medical experts believe these new materials violate this new law because they are not age appropriate and they promote unhealthy and risky sexual behaviors.
After hundreds of parents objected to the new comprehensive sex education (CSE) program called Teen Talk by Health Connected that was being considered in Orange Unified schools, the school board rejected the program this past May. The Orange County Board of Education voted to hold a special forum in September so residents could fully understand how the implementation of CHYA will affect children in all of the 27 school districts of Orange County. The board invited a panel of experts to weigh in on the issue. Surprisingly, supporters of the new supposedly CHYA-compliant CSE programs, chose not to participate in the forum, and, instead, spent their time protesting outside of the event. (Read a full transcription of the meeting here.)
Those in attendance learned that the ACLU often states that 89 percent of California parents support CSE, which makes it seem like anyone who is opposed to what parents are now seeing is out of the mainstream. After reading Teen Talk, however, Brenda Lebsack, one of the panelists and also a teacher and an Orange Unified School District trustee, was surprised that support among parents would be that high. (Read Lebsack editorial in the Orange County Register)
“There were some concepts in the curriculum most people had never heard before, such as GENDER SPECTRUM (meaning you can be BOTH genders, NEITHER gender, GENDER FLUID, and that gender possibilities are unlimited), PANSEXUALITY – defined in Teen Talk as ‘someone who is sexually attracted to men, women, non-binary people, trans people, gender queer people, and many more!’ And then anal sex, oral sex on anus, dental dams, etc.,” stated Lebsack.
She decided to contact the professor from UC Berkley who conducted the study, Dr. Norman Constantine. He sent her the 24 pages of the parent survey and his results.
“Interestingly enough,” said Lebsack, “I did not find any questions about gender identity, gender spectrum, pansexuality, asexuality, anal sex or oral sex on anus. Some of the most controversial parts of this new sex ed were never mentioned in the survey. Then I saw the study was conducted in 2007. AB 329 was passed in 2015. How could these new curriculum contents from 2015 even be represented in a 2007 study? I don’t think some of these words existed in 2007. ACLU obviously misrepresented California parents in their approval ratings of the California Healthy Youth Act by inaccurately quoting this 2007 Berkley study (and they quote it frequently).”
And judging by the packed boardroom and the growing parent unrest in Orange County, it would seem that this new type of sex education has, indeed, caught parents off guard.
Throughout the evening, parents and other stakeholders voiced their concerns. Kathi Winter, an HIV educator through Radiant and the Red Cross, and HIV-positive, herself, said, “Teen Talk” is considered the most compliant curriculum with AB 329. I’ve reviewed the curriculum and believe the misinformation places young females, especially, in harm’s way of HIV. Page 101 of Teen Talk states, ‘anal sex is unlikely to cause pregnancy.’ Anal sex is being presented as a way to decrease the likelihood of pregnancy. This teaching greatly empowers boys who are pressuring young girls to have sex, especially girls who are insecure and low in confidence. Anal sex places girls at the highest risk for HIV. Why? CDC 2016 says being a receptive partner during anal sex is the highest risk sexual activity for getting HIV. That’s the CDC. Females can only be receptive partners in anal sex, putting them automatically at higher risk for HIV.”
Winter went on to point out that Teen Talk lists vaginal and anal sex as low risk behaviors for HIV when a condom is used. “That’s simply not true,” she said, “and it’s very misleading. CDC in 2013 says, ‘HIV is at least 10 times more easily transmitted via anal than vaginal sex and condoms may be more likely to fail during anal sex.’ This highly approved state curriculum does not state this important fact that puts females at the highest risk for HIV when using anal sex to reduce the risk of pregnancy.”
Angie Cohen, a mother of two children in the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District, talked about how much of California’s sex education is not age appropriate and presented research from psychologists to support her claims.
“Dr. Mary Calamia, a clinical psychotherapist in New York has stated and also in 2014 that you cannot regulate biology. Young children cannot engage in the type of critical thinking that is called for. That would require a fully developed prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is not fully functional until adulthood,” Cohen explained. “The prefrontal cortex is responsible for critical thinking, rational decision-making and abstract thoughts, all things that this curriculum is calling for… . These are extremely difficult issues that are to be explored and discussed at the college level when our children are reaching adulthood. …”
Janet Chang, mother of three children in the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified District has looked through some of the CSE curricula being promoted in California schools, and she said that she was “mortified” at what she found. She described a lesson from Rights, Respect, Responsibility by Advocates for Youth called “Using Condoms Effectively.”
“This particular lesson plan instructs the teacher to do the following, and I quote, ‘Tell students that there is one barrier method that can protect against STIs during oral sex on a vulva or rectum of another partner. Take out the dental dam from the birth control kit and take it out of the package. Hold…one in your hands to form an “O” and place the dental dam over this hand, and explain to student that this represents placing the dental dam being placed over a vulva or rectum. Tell students our dental dams are flavored because they are designed specifically for safer oral sex,’” said Chang.
Chang cautioned parents that this type of CSE is covered in programs with benign-sounding names. These can include Rights, Respect, Responsibility by Advocates for Youth; Teen Talk by Health Connected; Making Proud Choices; Be Real, Be Ready; Apex; Flash; and more.
One of the panelists, Dr. Stan Weed, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology and has devoted his career to researching social problems and preventive programs affecting adolescents, noted that in California, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have seen a 45 percent increase since 2013, and half of those cases occur in the 15- to 25-age bracket. Weed presented his findings from his analysis of the results of 60 studies of 40 school-based CSE programs in the United States. He found that “none of the school-based CSE programs demonstrated reductions in teen pregnancy beyond the end of the program and none reduced STDs. Few programs even measure these outcomes and still claim that they’re effective. One school-based program was actually found to increase teen pregnancy.”
He also found “no evidence of school-based CSE effectiveness at producing sustained increases in consistent condom use by teens. Consistent use is necessary to provide sufficient protection from STDs. One program reported a sustained effect in a study by its developer, but a subsequent study by an independent evaluator did not confirm that effect and actually found harmful impacts. The program increased sexual risk behaviors.”
In short, Weed claimed, “We see far more evidence of failure than success and a concerning number of harmful impacts.”
The special board meeting was revealing, and since then, the outcry from parents continues to grow all over Orange County—in Brea Olinda Unified School District, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified, Garden Grove Unified, Irvine Unified, Fullerton Joint Union High School District, Fullerton School District, and Capistrano Unified. This type of sex education is being implemented all across California, so parents everywhere need to find out what is being used in their children’s schools.
Parents want what is best for their children—that includes sex education that is unbiased, age appropriate and medically accurate. Many parents believe the new sex education programs being promoted by the ACLU and the California Department of Education violate the California Healthy Youth Act, put California’s children at risk, and are wholly unsuitable for the classroom.