By Phyllida Burlingame, ACLU of Northern California
California state law mandates that sexual health education in public schools be comprehensive, medically accurate, science-based, and bias-free. So why are Clovis Unified High Schools teaching teens from a book that makes no mention of condoms, even in chapters about HIV/AIDS and on preventing STDs and unintended pregnancy?
Recent events, such as Representative Akin’s ill-informed statements about reproductive biology and rape–put the issue in a stark light. The brand of sex ed that Clovis high schools are peddling is putting teens’ health at risk – it’s dangerous, unlawful, and could have serious consequences if it is not stopped.
Instead of getting critical information about condoms and contraception, teens in the city’s high schools are told that to prevent STDs and unintended pregnancies, they should just “practice abstinence,” “respect yourself,” “get plenty of rest,” and “go out as a group.”
It gets worse. The curriculum teaches that all people, even adults, should avoid sexual activity until they are married. Additional materials compare a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe and suggest that men are unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused.
The ACLU of Northern California is representing parents and physicians in a lawsuit against the Clovis Unified School District over this outrageous and ill-conceived curriculum.
Students need – and deserve – complete, accurate information in order to make healthy choices. It’s all the more essential given current statistics: the rate of STDs among California teens has been on the rise over the last decade. In Fresno County, teens account for nearly a third of chlamydia cases and a quarter of gonorrhea cases, both of which can have serious health consequences if they are not detected and treated. Fresno County also has one of the highest rates in California of chlamydia infection among 15-24 year olds. The County also has had one of the highest teen birth rates in the state, and has for over a decade.
Clovis schools need to do better by their students, by teaching comprehensive sex education that promotes healthy relationships, healthy decisions, and healthy futures for youth.
Read more about the case here.