Securing Sex Ed Victories at State and Local Levels
For more than a decade, the ACLU of Northern California has been working to ensure that sex education in public schools is science-based, free of bias, medically accurate and age-appropriate. The law we co-sponsored with Planned Parenthood in 2004 has become a model for other states and for the national REAL (Responsible Education About Life) Act. After years of Bush Administration support for ineffective, biased and harmful abstinence-only education, the nation is poised to take a new direction, and many are looking to California as a leader.
Despite our significant progress, much remains to be done to implement our legislation and guarantee that students in classrooms across the state are being taught comprehensive sex education. Our strategy is to work both at the school-district level with parent activists and at the state level.
In Fremont Unified School District, we worked intensively for a year with a committed group of parents and community members who sought to remove the federally funded abstinence-only middle school curriculum and replace it with a comprehensive curriculum. Teenagers in Fremont now receive medically accurate information about condoms, sexually transmitted infections and contraception – as well as abstinence.
In Sonoma County, we have asked school districts to comply with state law by replacing abstinence-only sex education with a comprehensive curriculum.
At the state level, we worked cooperatively with the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to develop a more robust model policy regarding sex education for school districts to adopt. Nearly all of California's 1,000 school districts subscribe to CSBA's policy service, so by improving CSBA's model policy, we were able to provide guidance to hundreds of school districts in the state.