Sex Education Fail: Parents Sue School District Over Curriculum

Todd Rigney - Author

Jun. 15 2013, Updated 8:52 p.m. ET

Angry parents have lashed out against the Clovis Unified School District, claiming that the sex education curriculum is spreading lies and misinformation in order to push its “abstinence until marriage” agenda. According to the ACLU of Northern California, the lawsuit states the school system is effectively putting the health of its students at risk by not teaching them the truth about contraception.

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Clovis Unified uses a very different textbook for its sex education classes than most school districts. Instead of teaching teenagers about controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases through the use of condoms, the book avoids this subject altogether. Instead, educators are telling their students that the only way to avoid STDs is by respecting yourself, hanging out in groups, and, of course, practicing abstinence.

Aubree Smith, a plaintiff in the suit, has a 17-year-old daughter who attends Clovis High School.

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“Our kids need complete, accurate information to help them protect themselves against STDs and unintended pregnancy,” she explained. “That’s information they’ll need at whatever point in their life they become sexually active.”

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Physician Tonya Chaffee frequently assists teenagers who are in need of sexual health information. She, too, feels that proper education is the key to preventing the spread of diseases.

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“We can really save lives with comprehensive sex education,” she said. “The Central Valley has high rates of STDs and unintended pregnancy. Sexual health education in schools is the only way to reach many teens and should be a place where they can get reliable health information.”

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Parents whose children are enrolled in the Clovis Unified School District aren’t the only ones upset over the curriculum. The American Academy of Pediatrics California District IX and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network are suing the school system as well. The group will be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union with a little pro bono help from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.


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