The recent debate in Sacramento over California’s overhaul of the health education framework could end up creating some turmoil in Manteca.
A group calling itself the Informed Parents of California has been circulating fliers in the community detailing some of what they are claiming will be contained as part of the new Comprehensive Sexuality Education program – which they feel takes the decision to discuss more personal matters out of the hands of parents.
According to multiple sources, some of the pamphlets have actually been distributed by Manteca Unified School District teachers themselves to parents in the community.
And on Wednesday, a flier attributed to the group began circulating on local Facebook pages calling for parents to keep their kids home on May 17 to send a message to elected officials and education leaders about their distaste for the proposed changes.
Referring to the new curriculum as “SeXXX Ed,” the flier – which generated dozens of comments of support from parents with children at Manteca schools – claims that state school officials are using children for “their sociopolitical agenda” and that the parents “will stop at nothing to protect” their children.
While California’s current health standards were adopted in 2008, the State Board of Education has been discussing – and approved, with some minor modifications – a guiding document that provides a framework for how best to deliver those standards to students. The updates that were before the board represented years of input by educators across the state over the course of the last decade.
Currently, Manteca Unified students are exposed to comprehensive sexual education twice during their K-12 years – once during middle school, and again during high school as part of a health curriculum. In both instances, parents have the ability to screen educational materials beforehand, and can opt students out of the instruction if they so choose.
The state updated its rules for how districts can instruct students about sexuality in 2016 with the passing of AB 329 and requires that all instruction be age appropriate and medically accurate and objective. That law, which approved by the California legislature, impacted only the sex-education portion of the curriculum as opposed to what was discussed and approved this week in Sacramento – a wide-reaching health framework, only a small part of which is sex education.
Part of the concern from parents about that law stems from the inclusion of a section that requires that pupils be taught about “gender, gender expression, gender identity” and also “explore the harmful effects of gender stereotypes.” The revamped language has garnered widespread praise from LGBTQ advocates who feel that those students have long been underrepresented if not outright excluded in sexual education materials, but garnered sharp criticism from parents groups like Informed Parents of California and other faith-based organizations that have dubbed the state’s attempt at being more inclusive as an attempt at indoctrination.
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