The Associated Press (AP) reports in The Washington Post that two parents and a coalition of groups have filed a lawsuit against Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) alleging that its sex education program is putting teens’ health at risk by failing to provide students with information about condoms and contraception. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NCA), the lawsuit is the first of its kind in California since the passage of a 2003 law requiring that sexual health education in public schools be comprehensive and medically accurate.
“The sex ed in Clovis high schools violates state law and gives inaccurate, biased information to students,” said Phyllida Burlingame, ACLU-NCA’s Reproductive Justice Policy Director. “Schools should teach teens about building healthy relationships, the benefits of delaying sexual activity, and accurate information about condoms and birth control,” she added. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that the school district teaches students that all people, even adults, should avoid sexual activity until they are married.
“Our kids need complete, accurate information to help them protect themselves against STDs and unintended pregnancy. That’s information they’ll need at whatever point in their life they become sexually active,” said Aubree Smith, a plaintiff in the suit and mother of a 17-year-old daughter at Clovis High School.
The suit was filed in Fresno County Superior Court by ACLU-NCA on behalf of the California District of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and two parents. Responding to the suit, CUSD spokeswoman Kelly Avants said, “It appears from an initial review that the concern raised in this lawsuit stems from a question of differing interpretations of the depth and breadth of a school district’s obligation to cover detailed sexual content in its family life-sex education materials.”
Source: The Washington Post, 8/22/12, By AP
[Editor's Note: In its press release announcing the suit, the ACLU-NCA said "A 2011 report by the University of California San Francisco showed that although California's public schools have made great strides in the quality of sexuality education and HIV/AIDS prevention, many districts still fail to provide students with the complete, accurate information that they need and that the law requires."
The essence of the legal complaint is that CUSD's abstinence-only sex education program fails "to provide comprehensive, medically accurate, bias-free HIV/AIDS prevention instruction and sexual health education to its high school students," and is not in compliance with the 2003 amendment to the Education Code.
In November 2011, Legal Clips summarized a Dallas Morning News story in Education Week, which reported that the number of Texas school districts teaching students about contraception along with abstinence has surged in the last three years. According to a study by the Texas Freedom Network using a survey of school districts by the Texas Education Agency, more than a quarter of districts now offer “abstinence-plus” instruction. Just three years ago, a similar survey found that only a tiny percentage of school districts, 3.6%, were teaching an abstinence-plus curriculum in health education or P.E. courses.]