SB 71, the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Act of 2004, replaced a patchwork of confusing and often contradictory statutes on sex education with one clear and comprehensive new law. The law was authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl and sponsored by the California affiliates of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. It went into effect on January 1, 2004.
The new law has two purposes: “1) To provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual
and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; 2) To encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.”
SB 71 requires that all materials and instruction be age-appropriate, medically accurate, and objective. In grades 7-12, classes must cover the safety and effectiveness of all FDA-approved methods for preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, which means they have to cover condoms and other contraceptives and not just abstinence. Teachers must be properly trained in the subject.
SB 71 makes it absolutely clear that instruction or materials that discuss human reproductive organs and their functions are "sexual health education." Anti-bias trainings covering gender, sexual orientation or family life are not sexual health education. Therefore, parents do not need to be notified of this instruction and they may not remove their children from it.
SB 71 requires that schools notify parents or guardians at the beginning of the year about sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education and be given the opportunity to request in writing that their student not participate in the class(s) (“opt out”). Schools are not allowed to adopt an active consent or “opt-in” policy for sexual health education or HIV/AIDS education.
SB 71 requires that local school districts adopt an “opt out” policy for sexual health education. SB 71 does not permit a local school district to adopt an “opt in” policy for sexual health education.
SB 71 clearly defines that there is a difference between sex education and anti-harassment or anti-bias trainings that include education on safety for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Anti-harassment programs and trainings are designed to create safe learning environments and are not sexual health instruction.
SB 71 clearly states that parental notification and consent policies apply only to sexual health education, HIV/AIDS prevention
education, and related assessments. The law does not permit parents to remove their student from anti-harassment
programs or trainings. This includes programs or trainings that cover gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation
or family life.
Document and date the incidents as they occur.
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