Opposition to Assembly Bill 329 (AB-329), a K-12 sexual education law that was enacted in 2016, recently has been brought to the limelight by Orange County, California, activists who demand that it be repealed.
Those against the law claim the curriculum takes precious time away from children’s standard curriculum and teaches children about sexuality at too young of an age, encouraging promiscuity.
The 2016 law passed in the state Assembly 51–26 and in the state Senate 26–14. In both cases, this was largely along party lines, with Democrats heavily in favor and Republicans staunchly opposed.
The Epoch Times has recently covered the opposition to the law, as protests in Sacramento that call for its repeal continue.
In Orange County, conservative opposition to the law is growing, according to Mari Barke, who sits on the Orange County Board of Education, who noticed the effort in Orange County to challenge the controversial legislation.
Barke told The Epoch Times that a group of local parents’ rights activists from Hispanic, Asian, and Muslim communities were protesting the legislation due to the fact that its contents were only released in English. This shut out many parents from the communities, many of whom are non-native English speakers, from knowing the full contents of the bill.
At an event in Santa Ana, California, on April 2, about 30 community leaders, parents, and faith leaders met to discuss the curriculum that California’s Department of Education has mandated to the state’s public schools.
The event was hosted by financial planner Marc Ang and his nonprofit organization, Asian Industry B2B, which hosts bimonthly meetings on topics affecting the community.
Ang invited a number of speakers who highlighted their struggles and concerns with the California education system, in particular the direction the state is going with its K-12 sex education and gender identity curriculum.
The main speaker, Gina Gleason, executive director of Faith and Public Policy, highlighted the drastic changes that AB-239 has had on California’s public education system. The law aims to ensure that “students be free from sexual inhibitions, outdated moral constraints, should make up their own minds when they are ready to have sex, and should be free to enjoy sexual pleasure,” according to Gleason.
Gleason pointed out that AB-329, introduced by California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D), also pushes to recognize different sexual orientations, develop “healthy attitudes,” and promote gender expression.
In a presentation, Gleason explained that the bill vaguely states that the bill’s sex-ed curriculum encourages children to speak with their parents, guardians, or “other trusted adults” pertaining matters of sex and sexuality. The issue at hand, Gleason pointed out, is that “other trusted adults” is a fairly broad category that could include any number of individuals.
Gleason also shed light on the fact that parents cannot always opt their children out of topics covering gender identity, as the bill separates curricula on gender identity from sex-ed, further convoluting the situation for parents.
While the presentation by Gleason had a largely positive reception, a small number of protesters attending the event expressed their discontent.
The handful of protesters began heckling and interrupting her talking points by shouting obscenities and participating in sexually obscene behavior as a means of trying to upset the conservative audience.
The audience largely remained calm, with a few attendees asking the hecklers to be respectful and to not interrupt. The hecklers shouted profanities and attempted to shut down anyone who asked them to stop.
After the event ended, the hecklers fiercely argued with participants for about twenty minutes.
The Epoch Times followed up with organizer Ang after the event to discuss what occurred.
Ang explained that the event had been promoted on Facebook, reaching around 10,000. About 14,000 people were reached by email. This is likely where the protesters saw the event.
“They came as a mob and attempted to trap me in a heated discussion,” Ang said. “I feel like our society is slowly becoming like Communist China during the Cultural Revolution. Leftist sympathizers conduct their own version of book burning and attack anything that doesn’t fit their narrative. These rabble rousers don’t have an end goal, only to silence conservatives and anything they deem offensive.”
Ang’s event and the topics brought up by Gleason encapsulate the ongoing tension that parents and faith leaders have with secular state institutions and social activists over this controversial bill and its contents.
At this point, no motion has been made by opponents in the state legislature to repeal AB-329. However, Republican state Sen. Mike Morell has introduced a bill, SB-673, which would give more power to parents to make decisions about their child’s sexual education.
Despite the hecklers causing a commotion, Ang saw their presence as a success because they sat through the entire event and exposed themselves to an opposing perspective. This was also the first time protesters have attended one of his events, indicating that his organization is gaining traction in Orange County.
Ang concluded by saying, “Regardless of your politics, 80 to 90 percent of parents believe that learning academics is more important than gender nomenclature. Parents want the right to teach their children their values.”