|Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons|
Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, Republican, Costa Mesa, is introducing Assembly Bill 1348 to the California State Legislature. The Parental Oversight and Involvement Act would require schools to “receive affirmative permission from a child’s parents before providing classroom education related to sex, family life, morality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation,” the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.
The Times did not go into much detail, devoting only a paragraph to the story. Considering that state social studies content standards include world religions, the bill could have far reaching implications that go far beyond health and sex education courses. Biology courses, likewise, routinely cover sexual reproduction and human physiology and anatomy. However, the bill seems most targeted at health education courses that cover human sexuality, reproduction and STDs, as well as tolerance curriculum that is common throughout California. In fact, the bill may have been drafted in retaliation to Mark Leno’s senate bill, SB 48, which would require teachers to discuss the contributions of LGBT historical figures in their curriculum.
While it is not surprising that some parents and fundamentalist residents would be upset over the teaching of tolerance for gays and lesbians, or the discussion of safer sex, there is a far more important public good to be gained by these practices. Ignorance about safer sex practices and pregnancy prevention increase the frequency and the costs of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, costs that all Californians must bear. Ignorance about other religions, cultures, sexual orientations, lifestyles and family structures contribute to fear, misunderstanding, prejudice and abuse.
Also, if parents do not want their children to be taught about their bodies and sexuality at school or to learn about other religions or famous homosexuals in their history classes, parents have the right and the responsibility to remove their children from public schools and either place them in a parochial school or home school them. They should not be allowed to burden schools and society simply to satisfy their fears and prejudices, particularly considering that society will end up bearing much of the future costs caused by the additional unwanted pregnancies, STDs and hate crimes resulting from their ignorance.