Parents concerned about what their children are taught in sexual education classes in California’s public schools have resources at their disposal to assert their values.

Raymond Burnell, director of education at the California Catholic Conference, said “it’s absolutely critical” for parents to become involved.

“It really does start with parents exercising their rights and responsibilities under the law,” he said.

Burnell spoke as part of a panel held June 15 at the St. Bruno parish hall to educate parents about sexual education in California and parental responses. Other members of the panel were Aileen Blachowski of Informed Parents of California, a parents’ group opposing comprehensive sexual education, who spoke about the graphic aspects of sexual education curricula; Ed Hopfner, director of marriage and family life for the archdiocese; and Missionary of Charity Sister Maria Concepcion. The event was sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Human Life & Dignity.

Burnell emphasized that the California Healthy Youth Act, which governs sexual education in California, recognizes “parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.”

Parents have a legal right to review written and audiovisual materials used for sexual education and to supervise their child’s sexual education curriculum, he said. If they object to what is being taught, parents can excuse their child from sexual education classes by opting out in writing.

Burnell encouraged parents to learn what their children were being taught, opt out if they were concerned about the material and stand up against the school board if those rights were infringed on. “As a parent you are the most powerful person,” he said. “That’s your chi

Curricula adhering to California Healthy Youth Act standards have raised opposition in several school districts, including Palo Alto, Cupertino, Fremont and San Diego. Parents have raised objections over their graphic content and impropriety.

Aileen Blachowski’s said sexual education has moved from a basic guide to changes in puberty to “an agenda-driven curriculum” that goes far beyond what is needed and normalizes a view of sexual activity “that is contrary to the Catholic teaching on sex.”

The California Health Education framework, which is a guidance document developed to help administrators and educators choose a curriculum that adheres to California law, encourages educators to challenge the binary view of gender.

One chapter states: “Fifth-grade students will have an opportunity to learn that gender is not strictly defined by physical anatomy or sex assigned at birth. Rather, students understand that gender refers to attitudes, feelings, characteristics, and behaviors that a given culture associates with being male or female.”

A lesson from “Teen Talk,” a middle school sexual education curriculum, has educators discuss different sexual acts and the risk of pregnancy or infection associated with each. “Be Real, Be Ready,” the sexual education curriculum of San Francisco Unified School District, uses Planned Parenthood videos in its instruction and notes that sexual pleasure “is often not discussed by health educators or health care providers. While some adults may feel uncomfortable discussing the details of sexual pleasure and function, it is an important topic.”

In order to push back against what is being taught, Blachowski said, “we need hundreds of parents like us. Participate in state events, get involved in your school board, and pray and fast. If you have the Eucharist you can do this.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.