Sex ed must be inclusive and medically accurate, unlike Teen Talk
I am writing (representing only myself) in response to the Register article about “O.C. school districts resist state sex ed law” (July 19). Orange Unified rejected Teen Talk, a new state sex ed curriculum on a 6-1 vote on May 30, 2018, due to community opposition and controversy over medical inaccuracy. I voted against Teen Talk for 7th and 8th graders.
To clear up misinformation about why this was rejected, I hope to shed light on some facts. On May 24 and May 30, many people from the community attended our board meetings expressing concerns. Disapproval was expressed about pansexuality, asexuality, the queer umbrella, anal sex, anal/oral sex and one view taught as fact on sexual orientations and gender identities.
Direct quotes used from Teen Talk were:
P. 86: “Pan means any or all. Someone who is pansexual might find themselves attracted to men, women, non-binary people, trans people, gender queer people, and many more!” (Yes, the exclamation point is in the text).
P. 84: “Gender Queer — Umbrella”
Genderspectrum.org is noted for definitions:
“A child may have a Non-binary gender identity, meaning they do not identify strictly as a boy or a girl — they could identity as both, or neither, or as another gender entirely. Agender people do not identity with any gender. Descriptors for gender identities are rapidly expanding; youth … today no longer feel bound to identity strictly with one of two genders, but are instead establishing a growing vocabulary for gender.”
P. 162: “Low risk in getting HIV — Protected oral sex on anus.”
Concerning medical accuracy, a CHOC Hospital pediatrician attended our meeting and stated: “In reviewing Teen Talk, students are not being told medically accurate statistics regarding the effectiveness of condom use in anal sex. They are not being told the truth that anal sex is the highest risk behavior for transmission of HIV and other STDs especially since condoms are not FDA approved for anal sex.”
Assembly Bill 329 (California Healthy Youth Act) requires information include all FDA-approved methods of reducing the risk of HIV.
When Teen Talk was halted on May 30 in the Orange Unified School District due to reservations about medical accuracy and realizing we needed more community input to comply with Education Code 60002, where it states “Each district board.. shall promote the involvement of parents … in the selection of instructional materials.”
But the ACLU sent our district a letter stating that, “Parents do not have the right to dictate what curriculum is used or what information is provided to students in public schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that parents do not have any constitutional right “to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”
The ACLU’s letter confuses me. In Section 51937 under AB329 it states: “The Legislature recognizes that … parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.”
As a trustee of OUSD, I was elected to represent my community and to also uphold the law.
Our desire in OUSD is to have curriculum that is medically accurate and inclusive for all students. The goal of comprehensive sex education is to increase knowledge so students can make well informed decisions concerning their sexual health. That goal will be met, but not through Teen Talk.
Brenda Lebsack is a Orange Unified School District trustee and a teacher in the Santa Ana Unified District.