*Please note that California AB-329 is now enshrined in law as the Education Code 51930-51939

A friend of mine recently reached out to me about California’s AB-329 on Sexual Health Education. She’d heard about a growing “sit-out” movement to protest the bill, which was amended to force transgender and LGBT material into the curriculum; material that included “education” on lubricants, sex toys and anal sex.

This bill passed (and was subsequently amended) nearly two years ago, but sadly the state of political engagement in California (and around the nation) is such that most people don’t really pay attention to what their elected officials are up to on a day-to-day basis. Now that we’re staring down the phallic barrel of this new policy, it’s suddenly becoming very real for a lot of parents.

Rather than continue to send out message after message, I decided to work up a post to help answer all the questions my friends have been asking about what the law actually compels them to participate in and what they can do about it. It’s a long post but I’m trying to be thorough so bear with me.

What it says:

AB-329 is titled the “Sexual Health Education” and from that title one might reasonably deduce it is meant to cover things like pubescent changes in the body, biological functions of sex organs and information about sexually transmitted diseases. However, “health” has become a rather subjective term and according to this law includes areas such as transgender issues, LGBT discussions and sexual practices.

Section 2 (an amendment to original section  51930 of the Education Code), sub-section B, part 2:

(b) The purposes of this chapter are as follows:
   (2) To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and  development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and family.
At this point you should be asking yourself, “What exactly constitutes a “healthy” attitude towards these subjects? (We’ll go over the answer to that according to the state in just a bit).
Section 6 (an amendment to original section 51933 of the Education Code), sub-secion F:
(f) Instruction and materials shall teach the value of and prepare pupils to have and maintain committed relationships such as marriage.
This is a good thing to remember if you get a chance to peruse the materials.
Section 6 (an amendment to original section 51933 of the Education Code), sub-section I:
(i) Instruction and materials may not teach or promote religious doctrine.

If you can’t teach it at all, you must also not be allowed to criticize it. This is an important section to highlight in case you come across materials that directly name your faith or religion as “a problem” in sexual health education. It happens.

Section 8 (an amendment to original section 51934 of the Education Code), sub-section 9, part A:

(9) Information about the effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods in preventing pregnancy, including, but not limited to, emergency contraception. Instruction on pregnancy shall include an objective discussion of all legally available pregnancy outcomes, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(A) Parenting, adoption, and abortion.
Note the word “OBJECTIVE” in the text. This is of particular importance when it comes to education about the science of pregnancy and abortion. Your kid will learn that pregnancy occurs when a sperm meets an egg. They’ll see pictures and illustration. Dollars to donuts says they’ll see no such illustrations of an abortion. But maybe you’re okay with that and that’s your right. Just keep that “objective” buzzword in the back of your mind.
Section 13 (an amendment to original Section 51937 of the Education Code):
It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage pupils to communicate with their parents or guardians about human sexuality and HIV and to respect the rights of parents or guardians to supervise their children’s education on these subjects. The Legislature intends to create a streamlined process to make it easier for parents and guardians to review materials and evaluation tools related to comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, and, if they wish, to excuse their children from participation in all or part of that instruction or evaluation. The Legislature recognizes that while parents and guardians overwhelmingly support medically accurate, comprehensive sex education, parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.
The law says it’s up to you so don’t let your school tell you it’s not. There’s another buzzword in here to keep in the back of your mind…”VALUES”.
Section 14 (an amendment to original Section 51938 of the Education Code), sub-section B, part 4:
(4) Advise the parent or guardian that the parent or guardian has the right to excuse their child from comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education and that in order to excuse their child they must state their request in writing to the school district.
You can opt out. You should read this entire sub-section. It informs you of what the school is required to do and what you are required to do in order to opt out. It is not uncommon for some schools to never send out the information properly or in a timely manner and hope no parents make a fuss.
Section 15 (an amendment to original Section 51939 of the Education Code), sub-section B:
(b) A pupil may not be subject to disciplinary action, academic penalty, or other sanction if the pupil’s parent or guardian declines to permit the pupil to receive comprehensive sexual health education or HIV prevention education or to participate in anonymous, voluntary, and confidential tests, questionnaires, or surveys on pupil health behaviors and risks.

Your school or teacher is not allowed to impose negative consequences for failure to participate.

There is a lot to this bill (which is technically just an amendment to an existing bill). There are requirements to include discussions about sexuality, transgender feelings and issues, and sexual practices connected to those issues. You can and should read the details, but I tried to highlight the sections I think other concerned parents would be most interested in.

So what might some of the actual teaching materials look like?

Here are some segments from one “Sexual Health Tool Kit” that I found. There is no indication that any given teacher will be forced to use the materials verbatim but these are resources that have been state approved.

And here is a link to a study guide for a children’s book about “transgenderism” called I Am Jazz.

Regardless of how graphic your school may get, you need to know that LGBT/transgender issues ABSOLUTELY WILL be required curriculum content.

I live in Orange County and it’s hard to imagine my schools using this material, but we represent a very small pocket of the state. Just know that these teaching materials are out there and in fact already being used in some districts. Don’t lull yourself into believing they would never show up in your school.

 

What can you do about it?

1.Know your rights.

Read the bill. I mean READ IT. All of it. Yes, it’s boring legalese but every word matters. Bureaucracies often depend on you not being fully informed of your rights. And often the people “at the bottom” aren’t fully aware of your rights either. So know what the law says. If you go to a district meeting or a one at your school, print it out and bring it with you. Highlight the relevant parts. Knowledge is your greatest weapon.

2.Make noise.

Lots and lots and lots of noise. A lot of people think that calling and writing their representatives is futile, but you’d be shocked to know just how effective it is. Most lawmakers (particularly in CA) only have the goal of preserving their jobs. Everything they do is geared toward winning reelection. When their constituents get cranky, they pay attention…and so few people actually call and write anymore that just a few hundred voices go a very long way to making your representative and governor think twice about proceeding with something that seems unpopular. Here’s a link where you can enter your zip code to find your representative. Bother your school district reps as well.

3.Protest

There is a growing international movement to protest the creep of disturbing and graphic sexual “education” into our schools. On Monday, April 23rd many will participate in a national “sit-out”. You can find more information about it by navigating to the Sex Ed Sit-Out website.

4.If you choose a walk-out or sit-out, do NOT allow the school to record it as an excused absence.

The two things politicians care about the most are money and bad press. The reason your public school demands you call to excuse a child’s absence is because they lose state and federal dollars on every unexcused absence. You are never under any legal obligation to “ask permission” for your child to miss school for any reason. If you really want to make an impact, hit them where it hurts. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it, either. I could go on and on about the public school funding racket in this state and elsewhere (and I have) and how much money is being sucked up at the top before it even reaches your classroom. Suffice to say, you and your child alone are not responsible for funding an entire education system. Put your child first and ignore the background noise.

5.Don’t get complacent.

Bills like this one aren’t passed because there’s an overabundance of parents begging and screaming for more education about lubricants and sex toys for their 5th graders. They get passed because lobbyist groups spend a lot of time and money to forward what they see as important to their agenda. Don’t think that just because there’s an “opt-out” policy for any curriculum that the fight stops there. Trust me when I say there are already scores of lawyers and activists working to figure out how to force you to keep your child in school for this, all in the name of the “common good”. The people who would opt out in the first place are the very people the bill is targeting. You can’t change the landscape of morality if you can’t force the “bigots” to change their morality.

6.Votes have consequences.

When our transgender bathroom laws passed in this state, a friend texted me in a panic. She wanted to know what she could do. She was from a traditional church family and had no idea this was even happening. By the time she understood, it was too late. She couldn’t do anything about it. She was a reflexive voter…she voted the same way her family and community had voted forever. She never thought to actually look into what the candidates she was voting for were promising, what they believed, or what they supported. KNOW WHO YOU’RE VOTING FOR. Forget party politics. It means nothing in the state of California anyway at this point. As time-consuming as it is, think about the issues that matter to you and then do a little poking around to see how the candidates line up. Don’t vote for someone who is going to force your daughter to share a public bathroom with a grown man just because they happen to reside in the party you always vote for.

7.Spread the word.

Share this information with all of your friends, your family. Email it to the other parents in your classroom. This law is already on our books and it got there because too many of us are just taking for granted that our lawmakers have our best interests at heart. I can’t speak for other states, but I can say that in the state of California they most certainly do not. Money from lobbyists and something to stick in their next campaign ads are the two biggest motivations on our political landscape. That won’t change until good people like you start saying, “No more!”