The Fresno Unified School District, the nation’s fourth-largest, with roughly 73,000 students, has no comprehensive sex education program in place after dropping an earlier, controversial program. In response, Fresno Barrios Unidos, a teen and parent health organization, and the ACLU of Northern California have expressed their desire to implement a sex education program. In December 2013 they held a gathering calling for the district to improve its sex education curriculum.
The district signed a deal with the California Department of Education last year that may initiate a comprehensive sex education curriculum. The district also inked a five-year agreement with state officials to attempt to cut pregnancy rates and improve the school’s method of imparting information about birth control, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
Jasmine Leiva, health educator at Fresno Barrios Unidos, told the Fresno Bee that parents are unsure whether or not the district is teaching sex education. She said, “Some (parents) are surprised because they think (their children) are getting it. Some will say, ‘What can I do for my child to get this?’”
Fresno had a class titled “Sociology for Living” that was canceled in 2011. Required for students in order to graduate, it dealt with some aspects of sex education. Some of the information that had been covered in that class was shifted into seventh-grade science, high school biology, or physical education classes.
Although the state does not keep comprehensive records as to how sex education is taught in school districts, two studies, one by Burlingame and the ACLU and one from the University of San Francisco, asserted that 95% of school districts in the state teach some form of sex education.
Fresno County has a serious problem with young people’s sexual profligacy; it has the state’s fourth-highest rate of teens suffering from chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, and the second-highest rate of the same diseases among people of all ages.
Some trustees with the school district are not pleased with the district offering sex-education. One was quoted by the Bee, “I don’t believe that the government should be telling you about sex…I disagree with it in the same way we shouldn’t be teaching religion. There (are) so many varied opinions on what’s acceptable, from heterosexual to homosexual to all of these different things. How are you going to put that in the school?” Another stated that sex education should begin with parents.