Bondage, blindfolds, and vibrators are among the sexually-explicit topics covered in the 9th-grade health textbook, Your Health Today, and it has more than 1,000 San Francisco Bay-area people up in arms. That’s the number of parents, teachers, and concerned citizens who have signed a petition asking that the book be removed from the Fremont Unified School District’s curriculum.
The book, intended for college freshmen – not 9th graders at all – is a 400 page tome that delves deeply into the subject of human sexuality. Far too deeply, perhaps. With explicit illustrations depicting everything from how to buy condoms to the various stages of sexual arousal, many parents believe the book goes beyond the realm of basic health and into the realm of pornography.
“It’s a bit much for me,” said one parent quoted in the CBS story. “[The graphics] are very pornographic. The pictures are very explicit.”
The debate over sex-ed in American classrooms has raged for more than a generation now. Some believe it should be taken out of schools entirely and that teachers should teach an abstinence-only message, leaving more specific education to the parents. Others believe in a free-for-all, advocating general sexual education for students in elementary school. So far, the latter group has predominantly gotten their way. Common Core standards for sex-ed, for instance, insist that students finishing the 5th grade should be able to “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.” No, no ideological agenda here at all.
The book being used by the Fremont school district, though, goes beyond even what conservatives have reluctantly accepted. With its unnecessarily racy descriptions and subjects that don’t seem relevant to 13-year-olds in an affluent country, it’s difficult to excuse Your Health Today as just another example of overreaching public education. This is a clear volley by extremist educators in an attempt to push the federally-funded public school system that much further to the left. Listen to its defenders, among them the Fremont School District President, Lara Calvert-York:
“Our high-school students today need all the tools they can have to arm themselves to make the best- informed decision.”
Doubtless this is true, but it still confounds common decency (to say nothing of common sense) to try and understand why young teens and tweens need their teachers to explain “safe and harmless” sex toys and games as part of a health class. The argument that these kids can get their fill of sexual education from a smartphone in seconds doesn’t really hold water. Your children can learn plenty of things from the internet including how to build a bomb, the best ways to smoke marijuana, and how to cheat on your F-Cat test. That doesn’t mean you put those things into the curriculum.