According to Raw Story, California Superior Court Judge Donald Black made the decision to rule in favor of state law after two concerned parents — backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Gay-Straight Alliance, and the ACLU — took the Clovis Unified School District to court for giving students woefully inaccurate abstinence-based sex ed, even though California law prohibits that type of curriculum.
In 2003, California passed a progressive sex education law that took an all-or-nothing approach to a controversial subject. California schools are not required to teach sex education at all but if they do, they are mandated to adhere to an inclusive standard that embraces issues such as gender roles, HIV/Aids prevention, emergency contraception and sexual orientation and specifically prohibits abstinence-based approaches.
According to the suit, the Clovis Unified School District had been teaching sex education with materials that included zero information on birth control, compared women who aren’t virgins to a dirty, used pair of shoes, and encouraged students to adopt the mantra “one woman, one man, one life.” Even worse, Clovis is situated in an area that has long been known as a “hot spot” for teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
In 2010, teenage girls made up almost 35% of chlamydia cases and 30% of gonorrhea cases in Fresno County, despite accounting for only 8.3% of the population. In 2009, the area had the second-highest rate of reported chlamydia infections in California.
Judge Black ruled against Clovis, stating that sex education is an “important public right” and must be “complete, medically accurate, and free of bias.” His ruling was the first to interpret and uphold the 2003 law and will be instrumental in pushing back against abstinence-only sex education elsewhere in California. As Raw Story reports, 19% of California’s 1,000 school districts currently take an abstinence-based approach to sex ed, and a quarter don’t even teach the basics of HIV/aids prevention.
While this ruling means pretty much nothing for the rest of the country, it’s at least nice to see. Sex education is an important public right, and it’s honestly disturbing that teaching humans about basic reproduction is still seen as controversial in 2015. The goal should be to empower kids with knowledge. It shouldn’t be to manipulate and control them using crazed puritanical beliefs that leave them vulnerable to pregnancy and disease.