August 23, 2012 — The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against a California school district alleging that its ninth-grade sex education curriculum does not meet state Department of Education guidelines, the Fresno Bee reports (Benjamin, Fresno Bee, 8/21). ACLU of Northern California filed the suit against the Clovis Unified School District in Fresno County Superior Court on behalf of the California District of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and two parents.
The case is the first of its kind since California passed a 2003 law that requires comprehensive, medically accurate sexual health curricula in public schools, according to the ACLU of Northern California.
The suit alleges that the school district teaches that people should abstain from sexual activity unless they are married (Marshall, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21). The suit also states that the district uses a textbook that is not on the state-approved list, as well as other materials that are outdated and do not comply with state law (Fresno Bee, 8/21).
Response to Suit
In a statement, Clovis Unified spokesperson Kelly Avants said, "It appears from an initial review that the concern raised in this lawsuit stems from a question of differing interpretations of the depth and breadth of a school district's obligation to cover detailed sexual content in its family life-sex education materials." She added that the suit "does not accurately describe existing procedures and practices in Clovis Unified related to parent notification" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21).
Elizabeth Gill, an attorney for ACLU of Northern California, said it launched efforts in 2009 to get the district to change its curriculum. Gill said the district did not quickly supply lawyers with materials used in the classes, although it ultimately did provide most of what they needed.
"It seems to me Clovis has had ample opportunity to come into compliance and has not," Gill said (Fresno Bee, 8/21).
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Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
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