Some California parents are either fighting or fleeing the state after uncovering sexually explicit sex education instruction for children, including on how to use sex toys, masturbate, and perform oral sex.
Sex education has been turned on its head in the last handful of years, morphing from talking about contraception and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD), to teaching sexuality, according to Stephanie Yates, a mother of four.
“If a school teacher taught this outside of school, they would be arrested, prosecuted, sent to prison, and then, when released, put on the sex registry list,” Yates told The Epoch Times.
The framework—which provides only guidance for schools and teachers—follows the recommendations of the California Healthy Youth Act approved by the Legislature in 2015 with the intention of providing students information to avoid unintended pregnancies and to develop healthy attitudes towards growth, sexual orientation, gender, and relationships.
Only recently, when COVID-19 forced students into online-only instruction did some parents learn that today’s sex education in California seems to have gone way past the “facts of life.”
“Parents do not know what is being taught,” Yates said. “They think it’s just the regular birds and the bees about anatomy, the basics of how babies are made.”
School districts can pick and choose from the framework what they want in their curricula as long as it complies with the state’s mandatory standards, which include providing students with the knowledge to make decisions regarding sexuality, how to deal with sexual peer pressure, and their gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, according to the state education code.
Yates attempted to have her questions answered about the curriculum from her school but was unsuccessful. She protested multiple times in Sacramento as part of her fight to be heard.
Fed up, she decided to pick up her family and move out of state near the end of 2021.
“It’s not really a safe place to raise children at all,” she said. “I needed to do what I needed to do to protect my kids.”
Gracey Van Der Mark, a parent whose children attended schools in the Ocean View and Huntington Beach districts, also has tried to have the state remove explicit books from the approved-for-use list.
One such book for fourth grade through sixth grade is titled “Sex, Puberty, and All that Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up,” by Jacqui Bailey, which discusses masturbation in detail and explains how to achieve sexual pleasure with others.
“I was shocked by the material that I saw,” Van Der Mark told The Epoch Times. “I thought I was involved and informed, and I had no idea.”
Van Der Mark also discovered teacher materials that linked to a website called TeenSource.org, which allows teenagers to sign-up to receive advice and information on where to find free sexual health clinics and free condoms—all via text message.
The website further elaborates on alternative sexual acts, such as oral sex and “hand jobs.”
It’s unknown which schools, if any, share these websites with students.
Ocean View said it hasn’t.
“We’ve tailored our sex education curriculum to exactly what is appropriate for our students,” Ocean View School Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin told The Epoch Times.
Van Der Mark, who has run for seats on both the Huntington Beach City Council and Ocean View School Board went to Sacramento to voice her concerns.
After then-California Assembly member Shirley Weber refused to meet with her, Van Der Mark protested by reading aloud excerpts from Bailey’s book at a California Board of Education meeting in March 2019.
“It teaches [students] how to give oral sex in a lot of detail,” Van Der Mark, who had dropped by the assemblywoman’s office unannounced, said. “This is a book that the California Department of Education thought was appropriate for our fifth-grade classes.”
Weber, who is now secretary of state, didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
While Bailey’s book remains as part of the framework, parents have gotten other books removed, such as “S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties” by Heather Corinna.
That 400-page book, which includes graphic imagery of female and male anatomy, covers topics that run the gamut from sexually transmitted diseases and sex acts from start to finish, to abortion laws, gender identity, and navigating relationships.
One brief segment in the book provides a manual to “fisting,” explaining in detail how to properly do it to achieve pleasure.
The book was removed from the guidance for schools and teachers in May 2019 after parents, including Van Der Mark—whose youngest child graduated from high school two years ago—protested.
Four others that have been removed include, “My Princess Boy,” “The ‘What’s Happening to My Body?’ Book for Boys,” “The ‘What’s Happening to my Body?’ Book for Girls,” “Who Are You?: The Kids Guide to Gender Identity,” and “Changing You!: A Guide to Body Changes and Sexuality.”
The Epoch Times searched through the K–12 Health Education guidance and identified more than 100 books, documentaries, and resources approved by the state for schools to reference.
Only a handful have controversial Amazon reviews, including two approved for grades four through six titled “Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? REAL Answers to Real Questions From Preteens About Body Changes, Sex, and Other Growing Up Stuff” by Julie Metzger and “Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU” by Cory Silverberg.
Van Der Mark requested in 2019 for these books, along with “It’s Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends” by Robie H. Harris, to be removed, but was unsuccessful.
While some parents are fighting the state’s policies, others have had enough.
“The best actions that parents can take to protect their kids includes pulling their children out of public schools and deciding to put them in either private schools or homeschooling,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization focused on parental rights. “That is the biggest backdoor for parents.
“Right now, many other parents have decided to simply just leave the state altogether.”
Other complaints Dacus said that he has heard include parents of first and second graders who observed their children watching SpongeBob Squarepants cartoons, assigned by their teacher, about sexuality, same-sex relationships, and gender identity dysphoria.
“This is not productive, but actually potentially very harmful to a child who is working to solidify their gender identity and don’t need any adversity,” Dacus said. “It’s almost practically impossible for a parent to expect their child to go through K–12 in a California government school and still hold to their traditional beliefs or traditional religious beliefs.”
As such, Dacus has been assisting churches and community groups to start homeschool co-ops.
As some parents are seeking alternative education options, they can “opt” their children out of the state’s instruction. An attempt to have a less-passive “opt-in” option for parents with children in sixth grade or younger failed to gain traction in Sacramento in 2020.
During a hearing on that piece of legislation, its sponsor, state Sen. Mike Morrell warned parents—hundreds from across the state who had flown to the capital for the hearing—to stay engaged regarding what is going on in California classrooms or else “lose control of the ability to raise their own children.”
“We are having our own private version of ‘Animal Farm,’” he said at the time, referring to George Orwell’s satire book about totalitarianism. “Policymakers in this building want to raise your children.”