Senate Leader’s Support for Sex Ed Transparency Tested by New Bill

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Earlier this year, California’s Senate Education Committee rejected a bill to give parents easier access to the state’s sex education curriculum. Senator Leyva, the committee chair, said she rejected SB 673 over its changes to the state’s opt-out policy, but she supported “100 percent” the bill’s requirement to put sex education lessons online.

Leyva’s commitment to curriculum transparency will now be put to the test by SB 1265, a new bill proposed by Senators Brian Dahle and Mike Morrell to require online disclosure, without changing the opt-out component.

“Parents have ultimate authority in determining what’s best for their children, especially on sensitive topics like sex education,” said Morrell. “So they can make these informed decisions, school districts should post all materials online for full disclosure and transparency.”

Leyva made her statement of support for the online component of Morrell’s first bill, SB 673, in a hearing several months ago. Yet, she disagreed with the section that restored the right of parents of elementary-age students (TK-6th grade) to opt their children into comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education courses, rather than passively opt their children out.

“Senator Morrell, we have worked with you for over a year on this bill,” Leyva told Morrell and the Senate Education Committee, during the January 15 hearing (1:20:48 minute mark). “We agree with you; I agree with you on the online and transparency piece 100 percent. …[but] I made it very clear that the opt-in piece would make it something I could not vote on.”

Dahle and Morrell’s bill, also co-sponsored by Senator Ling Ling Chang, has two major components. First, the bill requires school districts to provide parents the ability to “inspect the written and audiovisual educational materials used in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education” by “publicly post[ing it] on the school district’s internet website.”

If the district can’t post it publicly because of copy-right concerns, then the material should be available through a parent or guardian portal. Secondly, all sex education material needs to be translated into any other major language spoken in the district, so immigrant parents are not kept in the dark about the sex education lessons being shown to their children.

SB 1265 is scheduled to be heard in Leyva’s Senate Education Committee on April 1, 2020.

California Family Council

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