Hundreds of parents in the Bay Area town of Fremont are threatening to take legal action against the California education department over a controversial textbook reportedly slated for use in ninth grade classrooms. Over 1,700 community members have signed an online petition to have "Your Health Today" removed from schools, because it "exposes youth to sexual games, sexual fantasies, sexual bondage with handcuffs, ropes, and blindfolds, sexual toys and vibrator devices," which parents consider inappropriate for 14-year-old students.
Parents have cited the textbook's traditional use in college courses as evidence of it being inappropriate for young teens. According to a statement from school district superintendent Jim Morris, however, "Your Health Today" is meant to be a supplementary tool for instructors.
"For those with concerns over the book's handling of human sexuality, the book does not constitute the health curriculum," Morris said. "It is a tool to assist the instructor in teaching the standards."
The standards include medical accuracy, for which the book was reportedly screened by the district's health services coordinator. Although some parents decry the lessons as being too advanced for ninth grade use, the book actually illustrates what students do need to learn in sex ed -- maybe not at age 14, but definitely before their teen years are over. Studies have shown that teaching sex ed as early as age 10 can have huge psychological and physical health benefits, including boosts to self-esteem and the development of positive body image.
Additionally, teaching students about "racy" subjects -- such as sexual fantasies and bondage, which have arguably received the most backlash -- should happen more often. Researchers have found that adults who participate in BDSM generally develop an interest in "kinky" sex around age 17. They should learn by then how to participate in bondage safely, with respect for their partners and themselves.
Still, Fremont parents are likely to move forward with a lawsuit to have the book removed, reportedly with the help of a faith-based parents' rights legal organization. Parents do have the option to remove their students from the sex ed course if they feel the material is inappropriate. They have also been encouraged by the school district to meet with teachers to discuss any concerns. Apparently, that's not good enough.