What are California’s new sex education guidelines?

California students remain in the bottom tier of academic excellence, ranking 44 out of 50 in K-12 education in the latest Best States survey by U.S. News and World Report. While they may not be faring so well with the basics, children as young as kindergarten are becoming experts in sexual relations, sexual orientation and gender.

All of this is a result of a concerted effort, underway for years but formalized with the passage of several laws. First, the 2011 passage of SB 48, the FAIR Act (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act), mandates that students as young as kindergarten be taught about LGBT issues. In addition, the 2015 passage of AB 329, the California Healthy Youth Act, also expanded sex ed topics to include instruction on gender identity and gender expression, while also promoting the use of contraception, emergency contraception like “Plan B,” and abortion. It also mandates that all students in grades seven to 12 receive HIV prevention education. The culmination of SB 48 and AB 329 comes this year with final updates to the state’s curriculum frameworks for Health Education.

The new framework, the lynchpin for California’s progressive curriculum, accelerates what unfortunately can only be fairly described as indoctrination to the LGBT worldview at all grade levels. For instance, the introduction to the proposed Health Education Framework clearly outlines the agenda: “[High School] Students will explore and discover their identities, gender expression, and sexuality throughout their education and into and beyond their high school years” (pg 27-28).

The public comment period ended in January and final approval is expected this May.

Up and down the state, parents have been challenging the framework, which includes sexually explicit textbooks and other inappropriate materials. It is especially egregious since state opt-out laws only apply to comprehensive sexual health education topics such as human development, pregnancy, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases and not topics like sexual orientation and gender identity lessons, which are (by law) woven throughout other curricula. These lessons can show up at any time, in any grade, without any warning.

For example, at a forum hosted last year by the Orange County Board of Education, parents decried curriculum associated with AB 329, saying in addition to not being age-appropriate, the curriculum promoted risky and unhealthy behaviors for children. Parents were also upset to learn administrators were using a graphic study guide to accompany the transgender children’s book, I Am Jazz (recommended for children in kindergarten to fifth grade). In addition to defining various sex terms, the study guide asks students, “What if you don’t have time or money to buy sex toys?” It goes on to offer solutions that include the use of various fruit. The district was also offering a “sexual health toolkit” as a classroom resource.

In addition to the formal classroom curriculum, the state’s education website contains a smorgasbord of sexually explicit resources for students, including where to get condoms and how to use them (with maps and games), acquiring emergency contraception (abortion pill), information about STDs, and definitions for the various expressions of bisexuality and transgenderism. Source providers include Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Equality California, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and GLSEN.

Voice of truth

Beyond the ramifications of stifled speech and parental consent, California’s schoolchildren are getting anything but a fair education when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity issues. That makes it vital for Christians to understand what the Word says about homosexuality so we can be a kind voice of truth to counter the informational blackout at the hands of educators. Scripture calls us to be light in the darkness, (1 John 1:5-9) and it’s not a command we can take lightly. The stakes are too high.

It also matters beyond the boundaries of the Golden State because, as we’ve seen for decades, what happens in California rarely stays there. It happened with same-sex marriage. It happened with all-gender bathrooms. And it’s happening now as lawmakers work to rewrite language in an effort to erase the biological sexes in favor of a fluid perspective on gender. With every one of these “advances,” religious liberty suffers. The good news is that there is still hope.

So what next?

With the public comment period for the California framework officially closed, what can parents and concerned citizens do? Although the situation appears dire, our schools are still redeemable and there are viable options:

Drop a note to the committee. The state’s Instructional Quality Commission will meet March 22–23 to consider feedback from the most recent public comment period. Although the official deadline has passed, it’s still possible to send them a thoughtful note. Make it brief, but kind. Click here for the list of members and contact information.

View the materials. Even with state-mandated instruction on homosexuality and transgenderism now law, California’s local school districts still have tremendous say in what and how these issues are taught. Ask to review your district’s textbooks and other instructional materials. Don’t limit curriculum reviews to health topics. As educators have become more emboldened, the discussion on LGBT issues is no longer confined to sex ed. Many districts are extolling the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals across all subject areas, including history, social studies, even music.

Know and exercise your rights. In California, parents have been stripped of many rights, even by the hands of the courts. Such was the case in 2005, when a federal appeals court in California ruled in Fields v. Palmdale School District that parents’ rights do not “extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” To help parents navigate through the confusing maze of state opt-out laws, the California Safe Schools Coalition has developed a four-page Q&A guide.

Attend school board meetings. Because these decisions are made at the local level, it is important to stay involved with local school boards. Governing boards are required to give the public an opportunity to speak and if enough people speak out on a topic, boards are often receptive to make changes.

Run for the school board. If your board is not receptive, consider running for the school board or recruiting others with a biblical worldview. Public schools are in desperate need of parents and community leaders with biblical values and a sound respect for parental rights.

For more information, visit Church United, which seeks to transform California for Christ by 1) Disrupting Pastors, 2) Uniting the Church, and 3) Transforming our Communities.