California’s sex-education law prohibits school districts from indoctrinating students on the need to remain celibate before marriage or teaching them that abstinence is the only safe way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, a judge has ruled.
The decision by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black applies only to the 40,000-student Clovis Unified School District. But as the first ruling to interpret California’s 11-year-old law on sex education and disease prevention, it should put schools on notice that “young people need complete, accurate health information required by law,” said Phyllida Burlingame, director of Reproductive Justice Policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, which took part in the suit.
“This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate,” Burlingame said Monday.
The state law requires school districts to make their sex-education programs “age-appropriate” and directs them to teach students, starting in the seventh grade, that abstinence from sex is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But it also requires districts to provide “medically accurate information” on other methods, including all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
I’m shocked by the ruling because it is so simple and obvious but it never even occurred to me. I mean, obviously, I knew abstinence only was not teaching kids sex ed, but I never had it framed this way in my mind in that if you are mandated to teach sex ed, you have to teach sex ed. This is functionally equivalent to a state mandate to teach math, and the way the teachers teach algebra is to say “Don’t do algebra.”
At any rate, it will be interesting to see how the God Botherers react to this one.