Hundreds of concerned parents rallied at the California State Capitol over proposed revisions to the California Department of Education’s Health Education Framework. They were successful in having six controversial resources removed from the framework, but the overall guidelines were approved, leaving many parents still unhappy. 

Informed Parents of California (IPOC) organized the protest, assisted by California Family Council (CFC), a Focus on the Family affiliated organization. CFC works to promote legislation that favors life, marriage, religious freedom and parental rights. IPOC was formed a year ago, and their Facebook group has grown to over 27,000 members in that short period of time. The group has also orchestrated statewide “Sexxx Ed Sit Outs,” in which frustrated parents keep their kids home from school to protest inappropriate sexual education curriculum.

The framework revisions began with the state legislature’s adoption of AB 329, the California Healthy Youth Act of 2016, launching the three-year process. The framework covers a wide range of topics, including nutrition and physical activity; alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; injury prevention and safety; and growth, development and sexual health. It’s that last area that has parents most upset, and this was the third state-wide rally in opposition to the sexual education components. After the rally, the group marched to the Department of Education hearing on the health framework, where almost 200 people had signed up to comment.

The resources removed included My Princess Boy, a book about a boy who likes to wear dresses and a tiara, suggested for kids in transitional kindergarten through third grade. (In California, children who turn five between September 2 and December 2 may be enrolled in a two-year kindergarten program known as “transitional kindergarten.”)

Who Are You? The Kids Guide to Gender Identity is another book suggested for this age group which was also removed. According to the book’s website, the book helps children three and older “understand and celebrate gender diversity, with straightforward language for talking about how we experience gender: our body, our expression, and our identity.”  The book comes with a helpful “gender wheel,” for teachers and children to explore the wide and ever-growing list of “gender” possibilities.

Recommended for fourth and fifth grade boys was, What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys. CFC describes this book as teaching “kids slang words for male/female genitals and masturbation, and about having sexual fantasies.” The framework suggested that high school teachers could “promote a school-wide read featuring the book, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties. The book features graphic descriptions of sexual activities. Both books were removed from the framework.

Parents made an impact by engaging in some strategic tactics. Some read and showed reporters pages from the books in press interviews. And when it came time for the hearing, some parents used their 60 seconds of testimony to read straight from the books to the State Board members.

While parents won a small victory, CFC and IPOC are remaining vigilant. Even with the removal of these resources, the framework is problematic. It recommends that kids in all grades – beginning in transitional kindergarten – be taught about various “gender identities” and “gender expressions,” because, “some children in kindergarten and even younger have identified as transgender or understand they have a gender identity that is different from their sex assigned at birth.”

The framework also includes teaching about various types of abuse, including “spiritual abuse,” which includes “insisting on rigid gender roles [and] …not allowing boyfriend/girlfriend/partner(s) to do things they enjoy.” Christian parents should be wary of the state deciding and teaching children about what constitutes “spiritual abuse.” And it suggests teaching 9th-12th graders about a variety of sexual orientations, including “pansexual,” “polysexual” and “queer.”

In addition to these issues with the state’s Health Education Framework, parents also need to be alert about specific sexual education curriculum chosen by local school boards and school districts. Such curriculum may include controversial, graphic teaching and resources – including the books that were just removed from the framework. But for now, at least, California parents can enjoy this victory, even as they gird for the longer battle.

Concerned about what your child may learn at school? Focus on the Family has free online and downloadable resources to help you give your children a strong, biblical foundation about marriage, relationships, family and sexuality.