It’s time to comment on the results of a year’s worth of efforts to create a better Sex Ed Curriculum in the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD). Several United Parents co-founders and members were able to influence the process and the final product by serving on the Sex Ed Task Force, a special advisory committee established by CUSD, to review and improve the curriculum. Collectively we (and some individually) spent hundreds of hours reviewing curriculum, re-writing lesson plans, making suggestions for improvement, and providing data, research and stories in an effort to protect children and families while honoring the law.
And, what was our cause? It was to de-sexualize the CUSD curriculum. It was to emphasize the importance of abstinence for our youth. It was to remove bias from lesson content and replace propaganda with settled science. It was to promote class discussions and illustrations that were appropriate for 12 and 13 year-old children. It was to gain transparency and make the curriculum easy for parents to review. It was to include parents in the lessons, and hopefully the ongoing discussion.
In the end, what was accomplished?
Teen Talk was largely, although not entirely, rejected. Objectionable portions remain in our curriculum, but the worst were discarded.
A Parent Interview was added to each lesson, which we hope will facilitate meaningful discussions between parents and children about sex, sexuality, and family values.
Parents of 7th and 8th-grade students are now allowed to check out a copy of the curriculum for their child’s grade for more convenient review at home.
Three e-mails will now be sent out to parents during the course of the curriculum, informing them about what has been taught and reminding them about the parent interviews that students are expected to complete.
Information about pre-natal care was added to balance the already-included abortion content.
More information was added on the importance of developing healthy friendships, as not all relationships are sexual.
Youth are now taught about the “legal age of consent,” and the curriculum teaches youth about setting boundaries and refusal skills.
Lesson content on the dangers of pornography was added.
In the end, what was NOT accomplished?
Some lesson content may still be deemed to be age-inappropriate. Scenarios discussed in class are likely too mature for all children, and three types of sexual relations are still named and described.
The value of abstinence (on many levels) was not included — it is only discussed as a means to prevent disease and pregnancy. The emphasis is still on teaching kids how to have sex safely.
A graphic diagram of female anatomy is still included in the 7th-grade curriculum.
Biased and controversial ideas regarding gender and sexuality are still presented as “commonly understood” fact.
The very real dangers of HIV and other STI’s are not emphasized. Students are taught how HIV and other diseases/infections can be contracted, what some of the signs are, and how they can be treated. But, the very real and devastating consequences of these diseases are not discussed, possibly leaving some youth with the impression that with medication all will be well.
Content about the value of marriage and family (mandated by CHYA) was removed and remains absent in our curriculum.
So, what now? This is a question that only you can answer for yourself and your family. The curriculum that the CUSD will now teach to our children is far better than the originally-proposed Teen Talk of a year ago. We are grateful for the many ways in which the curriculum was improved — for the addition of anti-porn instruction, for example. But, many parents may still find some lesson content objectionable — themes and lessons that are either not age-appropriate for their children or that run contrary to their family, religious, or cultural values.
Our participation on the Sex Ed Task Force was eye-opening for all of us. We struggle to escape the conclusion that a fully acceptable sex ed curriculum could have been created had our good-faith efforts not have been sharply undercut by powerful outside interests, whose goals and values are inconsistent with those of our community and the majority of its parents. We are disappointed that the CUSD staff and board (with one exception) either actively supported the lesson content to which we were strenuously opposed or allowed fear of outside forces to dictate their actions (and votes) on this very important issue.
We urge you to review the curriculum for yourself. We don’t presume that all parents share our views. But we do believe that each and every parent has the right and responsibility to supervise their child’s introduction to and education of sex and sexuality. If this curriculum does not support your family’s values, then you should consider exercising your parental prerogative to opt out.