When Sandi Padilla distributed leaflets in Downey, Calif., neighborhoods and held signs outside local public schools to oppose her school district’s new sex education curriculum, she was thinking of her 4-year-old twin granddaughters. She said she is “fighting” for the girls who will start school in August.
The curriculum in question, called Teen Talk, normalizes sexual activity and homosexuality and teaches pre-teens and teenagers that they could be born in the wrong body. One parent took photos of pages from the curriculum and circulated them among friends, churches, and others. Reading the material “made my stomach turn,” Padilla said.
Parents and grandparents like Padilla made enough noise that the Downey Unified School District decided not to use the Teen Talk curriculum.
“We ultimately are revising the curriculum as a result of your input,” Superintendent John Garcia wrote in an April 7 email to Padilla.
But state lawmakers and public school districts in other parts of California and across the nation are in the process of implementing similar “comprehensive” sex-ed curriculum. Their increasingly graphic sexual content and pro-LGBT messages target students as young as kindergarten, often without parents’ knowledge.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a law on March 27 that mandates a sex-ed curriculum for all public school students, including kindergarteners. Parents are collecting signatures for a petition to repeal the law—they need a minimum of 130,000 by June 5. Despite COVID-19 lockdown orders, parent groups had gathered 101,000 signatures as of Thursday.
The state-approved curriculum asks kindergarteners whether they would change to the opposite sex if they could pick their gender. One homework assignment instructs fourth graders to use the internet to find an answer to a question about the size of their genitals.
This type of content is not unusual. The Family Research Council released a report on sex education in the public schools on May 22 that documented similar examples from numerous states. In Fairfax County, Va., students spent more than 70 classroom hours on sex-ed-related content, according to the report’s author, Cathy Ruse, a senior fellow and director of human dignity at FRC.
The report notes one school district showed a video to young teens teaching techniques on how to “pleasure” their sex partners. Another lesson described abstinence as waiting to have sex with a steady boyfriend or girlfriend. Other sex-ed curriculum normalizes oral and anal sex. Some teach kids that their biological sex is their “sex assigned at birth” that could change based on their feelings. It discourages pronoun usage and the words “Mom” and “Dad.”
Parents are allowed to remove their kids from sex-ed classes, but Ruse said they are often ill-informed or unaware of the curriculum.
“Parents are seen as the enemy,” she said. “They want parents out of the way so they can give direct content to children without any filter.”
FRC provides a “universal opt-out” letter for parents to submit to schools for any “class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association” addressing transgenderism, sexual activity, sexual orientation, abortion, or contraception.
Parents in Downey have time to regroup. Since shifting focus to distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school district has postponed any action on sex-ed curriculum until January 2021, a spokeswoman said.
But the issue won’t go away: California public school districts are required to comply with the California Healthy Youth Act, passed in 2015, which broadly requires “medically accurate” and “age appropriate” comprehensive sex-ed in schools.
“It’s a matter of staying informed,” said Arthur Schaper, organization director for Mass Resistance, a pro-family activist group with 30 state chapters. “In Downey, parents were initially skeptical. We provided pictures and links. … They realized this was serious, and they needed to take action.”