Photo courtesy It’s Pronounced MetroSexual
When I was in tenth grade, I had to team up with a boy in my Sex Ed class and practice putting a condom on a banana. It was embarrassing, in an I’m-going-to-giggle-the-whole-time-to-make-this-less-awkward kind of way, but it was also educational. And effective. And potentially life-saving.
Sex education is complicated. Sure, kids need to learn the birds and the bees, but they also need to know how to protect themselves against diseases, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and whether they’re ready to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of being sexually active. As more and more cases of teenage bullying and sexual assault make headlines, understanding gender identity, sexual orientation, and the idea of consent is more important than ever.
One school in Northern California recently teamed up with its local Planned Parenthood to teach students not just how babies are made, but also to gauge whether or not they are ready to have sex and how to respect the sexual boundaries of others. According to Fox News, freshmen at Acalanes High School in Lafayette were provided an “Are You Ready for Sex?” checklist with questions about condoms, STDs, and pregnancy. Another worksheet provided clear instructions for giving and getting consent and included questions such as, “Is this OK with you?” and “Can I kiss you?” Students were also taught gender identity lessons with a worksheet on “The Genderbread Person,” which differentiates gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation.
But some local parents aren’t so thrilled about the lesson, according to the Pacific Justice Institute, a local non-profit organization dedicated to religious and parental rights. In addition to flat-out objecting to the course, some have launched a petition demanding that the school provide a preview course for parents, taught by the same person who will teach the kids. The petition currently has more than 100 signatures, according to Fox News.
“[Parents] are very concerned,” Pacific Justice Institute president Brad Dacus told Fox News. In a press release, he explained: “What is happening in Lafayette should be a wake-up call to parents about what Planned Parenthood and some school districts want to teach our kids. I would challenge anyone to read some of these materials and try to defend their use with 13 and 14 year olds.”
Representatives of Pacific Justice Institute didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s requests for comment.
The Acalanes Union High School district has been working with Planned Parenthood on sexual education classes for the past ten years, so it’s unclear why parents have only voiced concern recently. However, it’s possible that some are new to the district. “Planned Parenthood is a business. It’s a business that sells sex,” parent Camille Giglio told KPIX 5. “It’s a way to get clientele and to sexualize young people and turn them into lifelong clients.”
Yahoo Parenting could not reach a representative from Acalanes Union High School for comment, however, Planned Parenthood Northern California emailed the following statement: “We are proud to help community members in schools, parent groups, and religious organizations to deliver sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention programming that teaches teens about building healthy relationships, the benefits of delaying sexual activity, and provides medically accurate information about condoms and birth control. The vast majority of Californians are in support: A 2007 survey of California parents conducted by the Public Health Institute found that 89% of California parents—including 86% of evangelical Christians, 90% of Latinos, and 71% of people who self-identify as ‘very conservative’ —support sexuality education that includes instruction about both abstinence and contraception, while 96% oppose abstinence-only sex education. We look forward to many decades more of empowering young people and their parents to make healthy and informed decisions.”
Parents are expected to turn out in large numbers for tonight’s school district Governing Board Meeting to discuss the issue, according to Fox News. We’ll see what happens next.