The California State Board of Education approved a controversial overhaul of the state's sex education curriculum on Wednesday, providing guidance to teachers and encouraging discussions of several LGBT topics in the classroom from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Nearly 200 protesters gathered to oppose the new plan, with several parents claiming it includes sexually explicit material.
What are the details?
According to the Associated Press, the curriculum empowers teachers "to talk about gender identity with kindergartners and give advice to LGBT teenagers for navigating relationships and having safe sex."
The framework also gives pointers on how to discuss masturbation with middle-schoolers, as well as guidance on talking about puberty with transgender teens in a way that creates "an environment that is inclusive and challenges binary concepts about gender."
While the core tenets of the plan passed, the board did agree to scrap a number of books that had been in the original proposal, which several parents and organizations claimed were "sexually explicit."
California Department of Education spokeswoman Kinda Britt defended the changes in a statement, saying, "After rising levels of sexually transmitted diseases in teenagers nationwide, this framework was created to help provide necessary education to ensure that students are equipped to make informed and educated decisions when it comes to their sexual health," The Sacramento Bee reported.
"It was also designed to take the needs of our LGBTQ youth into consideration to make sure they feel safe and supported while at school," Britt added.
Greg Burt, director of the California Family Council told The Bee, "There are all kinds of alternatives, but they want to teach sex ed with the guise that they were trying to prevent sexual transmitted diseases and prevent teen pregnancy.
"Now," he said, "we are teaching kids how to have a robust sex life. Not everything under the sun needs to be taught to our kids with no moral judgment."
Patricia Reyes, a mother of six, traveled 400 miles with her 4-year-old daughter in tow to protest the board's new framework.
"It's just scary what they are going to be teaching," she told the AP. "It's pornography. If this continues, I'm not sending them to school."
A number of teachers praised the new guidelines for their focus on inclusivity, but educators from across the state also expressed concern.
Teacher and school board member Brenda Lebsack spoke up at the hearing, saying, "Teachers are afraid they will be forced to teach concepts that go against their conscious, and use nonbinary terms or else they could lose their jobs."
Elementary school teacher Tatyana Dzyubak told the panel, "I shouldn't be teaching that stuff. That's for parents to do."
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