Politics & Policy

The Birds, the Bees, and Bondage

California parents are upset at a sex-ed textbook teaching ninth-graders explicit material.

A high-school sex-ed book featuring explicit bondage advice is getting spanked by California parents.

Parents in the Fremont Unified School District are petitioning to remove a textbook entitled Your Health Today from schools because they believe it is overly explicit for high-school freshmen. The book, which is aimed at ninth-graders and set to be issued in classrooms this fall, includes explicit diagrams and information on bondage and vibrators, according to KCBS radio in San Francisco.

Teachers unanimously chose the explicit book in June to replace an earlier one that was ten years old. “Our high-school students today need all the tools they can have to arm themselves to make the best-informed decision,” the school district’s Board President, Lara Calvert-York, said.

Authors of the textbook told Today that the book is meant for college freshmen. They added, though, that they believe the material is appropriate for younger readers.

Parents, and even students, say the book goes too far.

“It’s a bit much for me, I’m not comfortable with my child — I mean, wow, that’s, the graphics are extreme — oh my gosh,” one parent told CBS as she was shown some of the images in the book. “They are very pornographic. The pictures are very explicit.”

A senior, Judy Le, agreed that the book is excessive.

“I don’t think we really need to know about that at this age,” she said. “I feel like it’s more of like, adults.

Parents reportedly have the option of removing their children from the sex-ed class. But more than 1,500 people have signed an online petition to remove the book from the curriculum.

“The Fremont community’s cultural values were ignored,” the petition says. It explains that the book includes material on sexual fantasies, ropes, blindfolds, and sexual toys that is “extremely inappropriate for 13- and 14-year-old youth.”

The petition also calls for the formation of a health-textbook-selection committee to select materials that follow the education code and are age-appropriate. 

The district, however, has stood by its decision to use the textbook. Jim Morris, the district’s superintendent, said in a statement that after teachers reviewed multiple textbooks, they determined that Your Health Today was “the best choice in terms of accuracy and alignment with California standards.” He added that the teachers recommended the book, as it had the “best up-to-date material.”

One student supported the use of the textbook, telling CBS, “Knowing highschoolers, they’re probably going to find out anyway, so it’s better to know from a responsible adult.”

Morris told NBC Bay Area, the website of KNTV-TV, that the books have already been ordered, with school beginning on August 27. 

Student Kate Topham summed up her reaction to the book. “Like ewwww,” she said. “I don’t really feel like I need to know about that right now.”

— Molly Wharton is an intern at National Review.

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