California parents are pulling children out of class in a fight over graphic sex education.
On May 29, parents kept kids home as part of an "opt-out" protest against a radical sex-ed curriculum instituted by the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and gathered in protest outside district headquarters.
Adopted as part of SDSU's new Sexual Health Education Program, Rights, Respect, Responsibility (RRR) is taught in grades 6, 8 and in high school. From its earliest introduction, RRR has been slammed by critics as normalizing pornography, objectifying children and grooming them for early sexual experimentation and exploitation.
Introduced in 2016 as part of SDUSD's response to the California Healthy Youth Act, the curriculum sparked an immediate backlash. By spring 2017, an organized opposition group, Concerned Parents of San Diego, had formed and begun lobbying for RRR's repeal.
"Why is it so explicit? Why is it telling kids that they have sexual rights apart from their parents?"
Concerned Parents warns that the curriculum:
- Is not age appropriate, it undermines parents, has detailed, graphic descriptions of oral, anal and vaginal sex and encourages behaviors, including mutual masturbation, to children as young as 11–12 years old.
- Encourages early sexual curiosity, experimentation and involvement in immature minds.
- Undermines abstinence. Though California law requires districts to teach abstinence as the only guarantee against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, RRR encourages other forms of sexual activity as a healthy substitute for intercourse.
- Directs children to access websites containing sexual content during school hours, on school computers, without parental supervision, that school safety filters would otherwise block.
- Undermines parental rights by eroding concepts of sexual morality "taught to [children] from their earliest ages."
Describing the materials as "graphic and pornographic," attorney Dean Broyles of the National Center for Law and Policy warned that RRR goes "well beyond the law."
San Diego parent and substitute teacher Ashley Bever, a protest organizer, remarked to San Diego's KGTV News, "A sixth-grade teacher did not write this. ... Why is it so explicit? Why is it telling kids that they have sexual rights apart from their parents?"
Bever noted that the curriculum includes graphic supplemental material, including It's Perfectly Normal, a sex-ed book filled with illustrations depicting sex acts.
In a March address to SDUSD board members, parent Carleen Grantham warned the curriculum uniquely threatens students' moral values.
"Yes, they can access sexually explicit content on the TV, the internet, their phones and friends," Grantham acknowledged, "but if the people in authority positions in their life — the teachers — are providing graphic and detailed information on oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, mutual masturbation — with easy internet links to cartoon pornography like it's no big deal, this confuses a child's moral compass."
The school district is feeling the heat. Ahead of a parents' protest in March, SDUSD school board president Kevin Beiser personally visited local TV station KUSI to lobby against coverage of an upcoming rally because "just a handful of people would be protesting," according to reporter Ashlie Rodriguez. Beiser's request was ignored.
The group Concerned Parents, meanwhile, has launched an online petition calling for RRR to be suspended and revised "to reflect parent input and age appropriateness."
The group is warning SDUSD that the radical curriculum is detrimental to the district, as it "will force parents to choose other educational options, such as other districts, charter schools, private schools and home school."
The petition calls for RRR "to be suspended for a major revision to reflect parent input and age appropriateness".
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