In 2009, the Clovis Unified School District in California was teaching abstinence-only sex education. This actually went against state law that required public schools to “provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and STDs.”
But the curriculum was still one you’d expect to see in an evangelical church, not a place of learning:
For example, one approved video, Go A.P.E., compared a woman who was not a virgin to a dirty shoe, and another Real People: Teens Who Choose Abstinence, was specifically cited by the California Department of Education as non-compliant and a video that “may not be used due to medical inaccuracies.“
It wasn’t until a group of parents sued the District in 2012 that the District finally changed its curriculum for the better. And for that reason, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black has ordered the District to pay nearly half-a-million dollars in legal fees to those parents.
“Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right,” Black said.
The ruling only applies to that District, but maybe the cost will deter other ones from continuing programs that are ineffective and harmful to students.
… a 2011 study at UC San Francisco… found uneven compliance with the state law: In a sampling of California school districts, more than 40 percent failed to teach about condoms and other contraceptive methods in middle school; and in high school, 16 percent of students were taught that condoms were ineffective, and 70 percent of districts failed to comply with provisions of the law that require age-appropriate materials about sexual orientation.
The ACLU, which helped the parents with the lawsuit, hopes this is a step in the right direction:
“Teens deserve complete, accurate health information, which they’ll need at whatever point in their life they become sexually active. This ruling is huge victory for students,” said Phyllida Burlingame, Reproductive Justice Policy Director for the ACLU of Northern California.
The District says they’re considering appealing the ruling because they think they were compliant with the law all along.
Either way, students there are finally getting the sex education they need and deserve.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Adam for the link)