PJI Convinces School District to Wait With Regard to Sex Ed Curriculum

Sunnyvale, CA–The Pacific Justice Institute helped convince a Bay Area school district to abstain from adopting a proposed sex education curriculum this week.
Parents who packed the Cupertino Union School District’s (CUSD) board meeting were in an uproar over a curriculum that CUSD was considering adopting in compliance with the California Healthy Youth Act, which became law in 2016. The law, which requires public school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 7-12, also requires that (1) such education be age-appropriate, (2) parents be given a full and fair opportunity to review any proposed curriculum materials to determine whether such materials are age-appropriate for their children, and (3) parents be allowed to opt their children out of any portions of sex ed classes that they deem objectionable.

CUSD had only made the curriculum materials available during working hours over a span of roughly three weeks, preventing many working parents of CUSD’s roughly 18,000 students from reviewing the materials. Furthermore, the curriculum materials included graphic descriptions of vaginal, oral, and anal sex, along with material on homosexuality—all of which, many parents felt, is too “adult” for their teen and pre-teen children. One parent even accused CUSD of essentially presenting porn to a PG-13 audience.
Finally, CUSD admitted on its website that it would be very difficult for parents to opt their children out of portions of sex ed courses that they considered inappropriate.
“In enacting the Healthy Youth Act, the California Legislature explicitly recognized that students’ parents and guardians are the best judges of what is and is not age-appropriate for their children,” said PJI staff attorney Ray D. Hacke, who sent a legal opinion letter to CUSD’s board prior to the meeting and spoke on behalf of a group of concerned parents at the meeting. “The Legislature thus empowered parents to help make that call. CUSD may have been complying with part of the law in attempting to adopt the curriculum. However, the district apparently forgot the part about enabling parents to play an active role in their children’s education.”
Ultimately, CUSD’s five-member board deadlocked in a 2-2 vote, with one member abstaining. A majority was needed for the curriculum to be adopted.
“Waiting on adopting the curriculum was the right call,” PJI President Brad Dacus said. “Hopefully CUSD will give parents more of a chance to review the materials and recognize that when it comes to children’s education, parents are their partners, not their adversaries.”