The Fremont Unified School District board voted 3-2 Thursday to nix a controversial sex education program for grades 4 through 6 but implement it for grades 7 through 9.
More than 200 people signed up to speak at the meeting, which lasted until 2:30 a.m. Thursday. An estimated 500 people attended, according to KTVU-TV.
Why is it controversial?
Parents opposed to the curriculum said it is too graphic, encourages kids to have sex and erodes family values. In contrast, school administrators said the program complies with the California Healthy Youth Act passed by the state Legislature in 2016.
The new program promotes “Three R’s: Rights, Respect, Responsibility.” The program topics includes sexual orientation, gender identity and rape.
“The new education is too much detail for the young kids and I don’t want them to learn too early,” district parent Helen Yu told KPIX-TV.
Deb D'Spain, also a parent, disagreed.
“I think waiting until seventh is way too late,” D’Spain said. “To not talk about it is just sweeping it under the rug.”
The district’s current sex education program for grades 4 through 6 does not align with state law, which requires California schools to teach gender identity, for example.
“We can’t go back to the way it was because that is not compliant,” D’Spain told the TV station. “We just voted down doing this so we are not doing our kids a service. It’s frustrating.”
Parent Martha Kreeger also spoke in favor of the program. Kreeger said her gay son has faced bullying and the new curriculum might help by explaining to students gender differences and orientation.
“It makes children who live in the dark and thinks everyone condemns them for who and what they are or even struggling with this issue feel accepted,” Kreeger said.
What does the superintendent say?
Superintendent Kim Wallace said she does not believe the material is too graphic.
“Whenever you are talking about personal issues, people have a lot of individual beliefs, religious, political beliefs,” Wallace said.
She added that the district is listening to parents' concerns and has toned down some of the objectionable content.
If they so choose, parents can opt out of the program for grades 7 through 9.
What happens next?
The issue isn’t over yet. The district is planning to form a task force that will recommend a new sex ed program for elementary students that would be implemented for the new school year, according to published reports.