Clovis School District: Sex Education that Gets an "F"

Issues :  
By: Phyllida Burlingame

California state law mandates that sexual health education in public schools be comprehensive, medically accurate, science-based, and bias-free. So why are Clovis Unified High Schools teaching teens from a book that makes no mention of condoms, even in chapters about HIV/AIDS and on preventing STDs and unintended pregnancy?

Recent events, such as Representative Akin’s ill-informed statements about reproductive biology and rape – put the issue in a stark light. The brand of sex ed that Clovis high schools are peddling is putting teens’ health at risk – it’s dangerous, unlawful, and could have serious consequences if it is not stopped.

Instead of getting critical information about condoms and contraception, teens in the city’s high schools are told that to prevent STDs and unintended pregnancies, they should just “practice abstinence,” “respect yourself,” “get plenty or rest,” and “go out as a group.”

It gets worse. The curriculum teaches that all people, even adults, should avoid sexual activity until they are married. Additional materials compare a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe and suggest that men are unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused.

The ACLU is representing parents, physicians and the GSA Network in a lawsuit against the Clovis Unified School District over this outrageous and ill-conceived curriculum.

Students need – and deserve – complete, accurate information to help them make healthy decisions. This is especially important in areas like California’s Central Valley, where Clovis is located. The Central Valley has limited access to reproductive health services and high rates of unintended pregnancy and increasing sexually transmitted infections among youth. At a time when there are cuts to so many services and programs for youth, we must demand that schools be a reliable place for young people to get health information.

Clovis schools need to do better by their students, by teaching comprehensive sex education that promotes healthy relationships, healthy decisions, and healthy futures for youth.

Read more about the case here.

Phyllida Burlingame is the Reproductive Justice Policy Director with the ACLU of Northern Californa.