A new bill authored by California Republicans would increase the transparency of the state’s sex-education programs by requiring school districts to post all sex-ed materials on the internet so that parents and guardians can know what their children are being taught.
The bill, SB-217, requires the school district to post the “written and audiovisual” materials used in “sexual health education and HIV prevention education” on the internet or, alternatively, on a portal if the material is copyrighted.
The bill requires the school district to adopt such a policy “at a publicly noticed meeting” specifying “how parents and guardians” can access the materials.
It was introduced Jan. 13 by California state Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican. The nine Senate and Assembly co-authors are Republicans. The bill was referred on Jan. 28 to the Senate education committee.
A similar bill was defeated in a committee last year, although controversy surrounded language that schools require active parental consent (“opt-in”) for sex-education in grades lower than seventh. The current bill does not have such a requirement.
“Legislators have no excuse for rejecting this bill again,” said Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, which supports the bill. “They claim to want parental involvement in the education of their children. They claim to believe in government transparency. Practically, that means parents should have easy access to content known to be controversial. This bill will let legislators demonstrate what they claim by their actions.”
The California Family Council, in an analysis of the bill, reported that some school districts, such as the San Francisco Unified School District, “make it easy for parents to see sex education lessons online. But “many do not,” the council said.
“It is common practice for school officials to require parents to come to the school or district offices during school hours if they want to review the sex-ed lessons, a difficult prospect for single parents or homes with two working parents,” the California Family Council said.
Social conservatives have often complained that the state’s sex-ed curriculum is “too sexually graphic” and “conflicts with traditional religious beliefs,” the council said.
“This is especially true after the passage of the California Healthy Youth Act in 2015, which mandates LGBT affirming sex education classes in junior and high school, and permits it in elementary school,” the California Family Council said. “Knowing the controversial nature of the curriculum, many times school districts try and avoid widespread controversy by keeping the details of the lessons away from busy parents. As a result, many parents remain ignorant about what their children are learning regarding sex and gender. If this bill passes, that will no longer be the case.”
Photo courtesy: Jeswin Thomas/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.