Public reaction divided on
sex education initiative

Nila Priyambodo
Managing Editor

Signatures to put Proposition 1070 – which would require advance parental notification for any sex-related education in public schools – on the California general election ballot in November are currently being collected.

So far 50,000 of the 373,816 required signatures on the measure to restrict sex-related instruction in public schools have been collected.

With many teachers, parents and children in California divided, many in West Covina are also debating whether Initiative 1070 should be put on the ballot.

“This is a very complicated initiative,” said West Covina resident Amy Tran, who has a son in 11th grade. “Many parents don’t know what to think about it.”

Under Initiative 1070, California schools would be required to get advance written parental notification, and approval, before students from elementary school to 12th grade receive instruction on sex-related subjects. Any school violating the rules would be fined $5,000 per violation.

The proposed ballot measure offers a few exceptions for students 18 or older and for instruction on disease prevention or counseling with school psychologists.

“Schools are supposed to be teaching the three ‘R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Tony Andrade, a proponent of Initiative 1070. “They are not supposed to be promoting sex.

“What they are teaching students (today often) has nothing to do with their health or health class,” he added.

Andrade gave several examples where public schools have offered sex-related information beyond that  taught in health class.

In Berkeley a study found that many teenagers who took sex education classes had been able to avoid pregnancy; however, the study also found some of these teens were taught specific sexual positions to prevent pregnancy, Andrade said.

Sixth graders in Berkeley were given cucumbers and condoms to teach them how to practice safe sex, Andrade said.

“Many public schools also advertise sex parties and orgies on campus grounds,” he added. “There are many public elementary schools in California that bring the Gay and Lesbian ordinance on campus to promote same-sex relationships.”

Andrade gave another example of a teenager who got pregnant and the school nurse told her to talk to Planned Parenthood, a program that offers health care and sexual health education. He said Planned Parenthood encouraged her to get an abortion without telling her parents. A few weeks after the abortion, the girl experienced some complications and died. The parents found out about the abortion from the hospital after the girl died, Andrade said.

“These particular subjects are too sensitive for high schoolers, let alone children in elementary school,” Andrade said. “Sex should not be promoted to children younger than 18 years old. They have enough time after they turn 18 to learn about sex.

“People in the business of promoting sex agendas to young children are basically pedophiles,” he added.

Proposition 1070 would allow parents to decide when to teach their children about sex.

“Parents … have the responsibility when it comes to sex and they should have the option of when to teach their children about sex. Not their teachers,” Andrade said.

However Planned Parenthood has a different approach, believing that anyone has the right to get accurate sex-related information.

“If teenagers want to get information about sex, school is not their only resource,” said Laura Morgan, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles. “With the internet, they can get anything, whether it’s right or wrong. If we want to make sure they are getting the right information, we need to teach it to them, even if it means teaching them at school.

“But, we will not tell anyone to get an abortion without parental notification if they are under aged,” she added. “Andrade’s claims are false.”

Ray Allen, a health teacher at West Covina High School agrees.

“We should not deny a student’s right to learn about sex,” Allen said. “We should teach it to them before it is too late.”

Samantha Clark, an 11th-grader from West Covina High School, added: “Teenagers will still learn about sex and be sexually active even if the school prohibits it. It doesn’t matter. We don’t need school to learn about it.”

Some students, however, support the proposed initiative.

Tony Tran, an 11th-grader in West Covina High School and Amy Tran’s son, is one of them.

“I don’t think school is the appropriate place for students to learn about sex,” Tony Tran said. “It’s kind of embarrassing to learn about it from teachers in front of my friends. I’d rather have my parents teach me, or someone I’m more comfortable with.”

Jennifer Robinson, a 5th grade teacher from Merlinda Elementary School added: “I would feel uncomfortable if I’m teaching a student something that their parents did not approve. I would feel so much more comfortable if they approved the sex-related information I’m teaching them.”

Californians will have to wait to see if the initiative will pass and get on the general election ballot.

“We can’t tell people how to vote for this initiative just like we can’t tell parents how they should raise their kids,” Amy Tran said. “They just have to vote whether they think this initiative will make their children’s life better or not.”

Nila Priyambodo can be reached at npriyambodo@ulv.edu.


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Posted May 16, 2005
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