California schools pull controversial sex ed textbook

More than 2,000 parents protested teaching students about sex in a way that actually made it look fun

Topics: sex ed, Sex Education, Sex, Love and Sex, lawsuit, School Board, Education, California, textbook wars, healthy sexuality, Teen sex, bondage, Masturbation, Vibrators, sexual fantasies, ,

California schools pull controversial sex ed textbook (Credit: woaiss via Shutterstock)

After more than 2,000 parents signed a petition protesting the “inappropriate” sex education curriculum in Fremont, California, public schools, the local school board has decided to pull a controversial textbook meant to teach students about healthy sexuality. “Your Health Today” drew ire from the community over its anatomical drawings of reproductive organs and mentions of sensuality, masturbation and sexual fantasies, which protesters have described as “not age-appropriate” and “not necessary” for students.

“I saw the textbook and [it is] definitely not education at all,” one petitioner wrote in protest. “This will pollute the minds of the children, and at my age I call this book disgusting and sickening. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil teaching the children about sex is left for the parents to do.”

According to SFGate, the school board capitulated to such complaints on Wednesday, opting to use last year’s sex ed textbook instead — despite the fact that the book reportedly contains outdated and inaccurate information. “Your Health Today” will be sent back to the publisher with a list of requested changes that might make it more acceptable to parents.

Despite overwhelming outcry, several community members supported the use of the new textbook, including school board president Lara Calvert-York. “Yes, it talks about masturbation,” Calvert-York told SFGate. “We really want [students] to have a safe place to get facts about their bodies and how to handle things and how they need to be mature to deal with these things.”

And, Calvert-York added in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, a number of ninth graders are already sexually active; they cannot wait for adult sex ed. “We know this from student surveys done in our own district,” Calvert-York said. “Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe.”



Apparently, as the thousands of Fremont parents who came out against “Your Health Today” seem to believe, teaching young teens about consent and sexual boundaries is not the best way to ensure their safety. Research shows that this isn’t the case at all — in fact, studies have found the opposite to be true, indicating that the earlier frank conversations about sexuality begin, the healthier kids will be. But health — basic, medically accurate, non-discriminatory sexual health, in particular — isn’t really “appropriate” for students.

Jenny Kutner

Jenny Kutner is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sex, gender and feminism. Follow @jennykutner or email jkutner@salon.com.

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