Bishop Unified School District Approves Sex Ed Program 4-1

Following three hours of public comment, the Bishop Unified School District approved the sex
education curriculum developed by the Inyo County Office of Education with a 4-1 vote. The
public comments were more evenly divided with 34 asking for approval and 26 against. Some
Board members noted the fact parents could opt out of the program as one of the reasons for
the “aye” vote.

Sex Education is required in California schools with the passage of the Healthy Youth Act,
expanded to include discussion of sexual orientation, gender identification, sex trafficking and
information on contraception and HIV treatment.

Illissa Twomey, with the ICOE explained the criteria used to select the specific curriculum. That
process includes communication with parents. The curriculum is a “teaching tool” and also
includes adolescent development and body image. Parents have the option to pull their
children out of the program.

Some of the comments during public input session:
 “Kids are curious and may get questionable sources of information. Abstinence is
unrealistic. Everyone will eventually have sex.”
 “It’s a good program; it will save lives.”
 “Kids see stuff on-line. We need to give them the tools to say ‘no’.”
 Reduction in teen pregnancies in communities where sex ed was included in the curriculum
was noted by a number commenters.
 Parents are often not comfortable talking to their children about sex.

 Some speakers equated the curriculum to pornography.
 Roll playing, as part of the discussion on sexual orientation and masturbation, was confusing
for the students.
 One parent suggested a permission slip to allow the child to attend sex education sessions
rather than just a procedure to opt out of the classes.
 Some felt the younger students were not ready for the curriculum.
 The concept of sexualization of children came up during public comment and by Board
member Josh Nicholson. An article in the Harvard International Review from 2019 seemed
to contradict that reference focusing instead on the commercial clothing and services for
children, inappropriate images or logos and establishing laws protecting the right to sue
companies using explicit messages. The article goes on to explain the best defense against
the impact of these media images was “informed, positivity-primed sexual education….not
restricted to the abstinence-based or a pitfall-prone attitude.”

Following board discussion, chair Steve Elias summed up the issue: “The question tonight is this the right curriculum. We vetted the options, hired consultants to recommend a policy
appropriate to this community. We have the flexibility, we have choices. I believe in our
educators; we can go back and clean-up the program.”

With the option for parents to pull their children out of the sessions on sex ed, the curriculum
was approved.

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