The CVUSD has begun the process of adopting an AB 329 (California Healthy Youth Act) compliant sex education curriculum for 9th grade. The board intends to update its sex education board policy which will affect both 7th and 9th grade sex education. It is unclear why an update in board policy for 7th grade is being recommended with no updated curriculum to preview. The board has not decided if optional K-6 sex education and gender identity will be taught. Teacher training for all grades has begun on gender identity.
CVUSD adoption of updated sex education material is a big deal as parents around the state have become increasingly concerned about new sex education curriculum that focuses on topics such as student rights, sexual pleasure, gender identity, sexual consent, minors receiving abortions without parental consent and methods for anal and oral sex STI prevention.
The California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA)/AB 329 requires districts to teach sex education based on “Risk Reduction,” which assumes students are sexually active, rather than “Risk Avoidance,” which is abstinence-based. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) determined that 40% of school-aged students have had sexual intercourse at least once. The same study showed that only 30% had sexual intercourse at least once in Los Angeles school districts (the closest area to us where data was taken). Therefore, the sex education required by AB 329 is meant for the students that are actually sexually active. Examples of Risk Reduction-based curriculum include teaching about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, contraception (including the “Morning After Pill”), instructing students of their right to get an abortion without parental notification or permission and teaching condom negotiation skills. These are topics to discuss with CVUSD leadership to be better informed about how these will be taught to the students.
CVUSD leadership told parents at the February 17, 2020 board meeting that they utilized four available sex education curricula as resources to begin developing their own sex education curriculum. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Luis Lichtl, indicated that 5 teachers are working to develop the curriculum. The four curricula they consulted include:
California Parent Alliance endorses the HEART curriculum because it uplifts family values, encourages parent and child communication, engages parents and complies with AB 329. HEART is also free. HEART ensures respect for the diversity of families in our community as students are required to have discussions with their parents or other trusted adult to get their feedback while completing assignments on all topics in sex education. Surrounding school districts such as Moorpark, Simi Valley and Oak Park have adopted Positive Prevention PLUS. Santa Barbara Unified parents are currently lobbying their school board to stop using the controversial sex education curriculum, Teen Talk, and to adopt HEART.
CVUSD has made the unusual choice to develop its own sex education curriculum which comes with potential liability and the accompanying responsibility to ensure medical accuracy and compliance with AB 329. A big advantage to adopting an established curriculum is that parents can research that curriculum and know exactly what will be taught. Teachers will also know exactly what is permitted to be taught.
Based on the February 17th district staff comments, CVUSD leadership appears to have missed an important opportunity to involve parents in the process of developing AB 329 compliant sex education material. Parents have not been consulted so far. The CVUSD’s current sex education curriculum, which is abstinence based and not AB 329 compliant, was developed by the CVUSD Family Life Committee which included parents, doctors, nurses, community members and clergy. The current board majority gave consensus in 2019 that they did not want the Family Life Committee involved in the development of the new sex education curriculum decisions, therefore only teachers have been permitted to work on the curriculum.
The California Parent Alliance believes that Education Code 60002 requires CVUSD to encourage and promote the involvement of parents and the community in the selection of curriculum. We look forward to working together with CVUSD to ensure the adopted sex education curriculum meets community standards and values.
Please note the CVUSD has not provided the board and public with any sex education lessons/curriculum, only slides with brief overviews of topics. Importantly however, the CVUSD has promised transparency of updated materials and should therefore have all lesson plans available for parents to see at the February 26th and March 5th Sex Education Parent and Community Preview Nights from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (1402 Janss Rd.) and on their website.
If the new lessons are not available at the preview nights, parents and community members should ask the CVUSD to provide these to parents before the board votes to adopt a curriculum. The sex education curriculum should be finalized and transparent BEFORE board adoption. Changes to the curriculum should not be made once the curriculum is approved.
The two CVUSD presentations on sex education that were provided to the board and public at the February 17, 2020 can be seen here:
AB 329 REQUIRES THAT COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION MUST:
- Be age appropriate, medically accurate and objective.
- Be appropriate for students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, students with disabilities, and English learners.
- Not promote bias against students because of disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Affirmatively recognize and provide examples of relationships and couples of different sexual orientations and same-sex relationships.
- Teach students about gender, gender expression, gender identity, and explore the harm of negative gender stereotypes. Gender is defined in Senate Bill 179 as male, female and nonbinary. Please read the Senate Bill for entire definition.
- Encourage students to talk to their parents about sex and encourage committed relationships like marriage.
- Teach about relationship abuse and human trafficking
- Teach negotiation and refusal skills for sexual activity.
- NOT teach or promote religious doctrine.
- Provide accurate information on transmission and prevention of HIV, STI’s and their effect on the body.
- Teach about parenting, adoption and abortion.
- Teach all FDA approved contraception methods including emergency contraception (also called the “Morning-After Pill”).
- Teach safe surrender laws.
HOW CAN PARENTS ENSURE THERE IS TRANSPARENCY AND PARENT, NURSE AND DOCTOR INPUT INTO SEX EDUCATION CURRICULUM?
- Attend the February 26th and March 5th Sex Education Parent and Community Preview Nights from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at 1402 Janss Road to preview plans for sex education and ask questions. You do not need a 9th grader to attend and questions can be asked about all grade levels of sex education. District staff will be there to answer questions.
- Go to this link and ask specific questions of district staff using the QR codes on the slides: https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/conejo/Board.nsf/files/BLSNQG610854/$file/ALL%20Supplemental%20Units%20Health%209%20BOE%202%2018%2020.pdf
- Come to the school board meetings on March 3rd and March 17th to learn more about what will be taught, listen to board member and staff deliberations and voice opinions regarding transparency and curriculum decisions during public comment time. Location: 1402 Janss Road. Meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. Public comment cards can be found on the back table. Each person can speak for 3 minutes. Submit public speaker card to the person sitting at the desk in front of the dais.
- Email the school board members with questions and concerns:
POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS DURING PUBLIC COMMENT
- We would like parent involvement and partnership with CVUSD in the development and final decisions regarding the sex education curriculum. Parents know what is best for their own children and we want to partner with the District to ensure parental involvement and that parents are fully informed with what the children are taught in school regarding sexuality.
- We would like transparency by CVUSD providing all sex education lesson plans, resources, websites, and other information to be made available for parents to see on the CVUSD website. Because CVUSD is developing its own curriculum, there should not be copyright issues.
- We want the CVUSD to adopt a sex education curriculum that most parents can feel good about. It is not right to exclude students because material is graphic and disturbing to them. We do not want to have to opt our children out of the sex education portion of Health class and Biology class (in 7th grade) because it is inappropriate.
- We would like information and specific curriculum that will be offered to students that choose to opt their child out of sex education.
- A nurse should teach all medical information.
WHAT DO I DO IF I WANT TO OPT MY CHILD OUT OF SEX EDUCATION?
The CVUSD opt out form must be given to the district by the parents or their child will remain in sex education class. The link for the CVUSD opt out form is here:
IMPORTANT LAWS REGARDING PARENTAL RIGHTS
Education Code 51101 (Link to law)
a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the parents and guardians of pupils enrolled in public schools have the right and should have the opportunity, as mutually supportive and respectful partners in the education of their children within the public schools, to be informed by the school, and to participate in the education of their children, as follows:
- (8) To examine the curriculum materials of the class or classes in which their child is enrolled.
Education Code 60002. (Link to law)
Each district board shall provide for substantial teacher involvement in the selection of instructional materials and shall promote the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the selection of instructional materials.
Education Code 51937. (Link to law)
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.
Education Code 51938. (Link to law)
(a) A parent or guardian of a pupil has the right to excuse their child from all or part of comprehensive sexual health education, HIV prevention education, and assessments related to that education through a passive consent (“opt-out”) process. A school district shall not require active parental consent (“opt-in”) for comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education.
(b) At the beginning of each school year, or, for a pupil who enrolls in a school after the beginning of the school year, at the time of that pupil’s enrollment, each school district shall notify the parent or guardian of each pupil about instruction in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education and research on pupil health behaviors and risks planned for the coming year. The notice shall do all of the following:
(b) (1) Advise the parent or guardian that written and audiovisual educational materials used in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education are available for inspection and that during this inspection a parent or guardian may make copies at the parent’s or guardian’s pupil’s school of any written educational material that will be distributed to pupils, if it is not copyrighted and has been or will be presented by an outside consultant or guest speaker.
(c) A school district shall allow a pupil’s parent or guardian to inspect any written or audiovisual educational material used in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education. A parent or guardian may, during inspection, make copies at the parent’s or guardian’s pupil’s school of any written educational material that will be distributed to pupils, if it is not copyrighted and has been or will be presented by an outside consultant or guest speaker. If a parent or guardian elects to make copies, the school may charge up to ten cents ($0.10) per page.
Education Code 51240. (Link to law)
(a) If any part of a school’s instruction in health conflicts with the religious training and beliefs of a parent or guardian of a pupil, the pupil, upon written request of the parent or guardian, shall be excused from the part of the instruction that conflicts with the religious training and beliefs.
(b) For purposes of this section, “religious training and beliefs” includes personal moral convictions.
Call to Action
If you haven’t become involved in this issue yet, now is the time to make your voice heard. The future of our children and the community is at stake. Please contact us with any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
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