Parent Requests Mt. Diablo School District End Abstinence-Based Sex Education Program
A parent is requesting that the Mt. Diablo school district in Concord end a sex education program promoting abstinence, alleging that the group running the program has given students "biased and graphic information" on abortions, the Contra Costa Times reports. Last week, Renee Walker sent a letter of complaint to the school district and the state superintendent after she learned that an eight-day sex education program in her son's middle school, called CryBabies, is conducted by First Resort, a Christian pregnancy counseling service with centers that have a "reputation for being antiabortion," the Times reports. According to Walker, she was initially "enthusiastic" about the school's curriculum because she thought it was a "comprehensive sex education program stressing abstinence." However, she said she became concerned about the program after her son was taught that seaweed is inserted into a woman's cervix to soften it before an abortion. In addition, Walker said that the program provided "insufficient information" on how to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Walker said, "What I send my kids to school for is to get an education. My expectation is that education is going to be based on educationally sound, research-based, age-appropriate information. I don't expect a political agenda in school." The CryBabies program was pulled from Oakland schools in 2000 after another parent complained of inaccurate information, but the school district reinstated the program after the material was "updated and revised," according to the Times.
CryBabies Program Director Deborah Morris defended her program, saying it provides "unbiased and factual information." She added that any personal or religious beliefs held by CryBabies instructors are not expressed in the classroom, in compliance with state law. According to the Times, state law does not mandate sex education in classrooms, but the education code states that if districts choose to teach such programs, the lessons must be "medically accurate, objective and stress abstinence." Parents must give children permission to participate in the education programs and can review the curriculum before the course begins. The Mt. Diablo school district in January plans to meet to discuss its health curriculum, including the CryBabies program. The program is taught at four schools in the Mt. Diablo system and about 20 schools in the Bay Area, the Times reports (Pardington, Contra Costa Times, 12/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.