By Mary Margaret Olohan
A California school district will not allow parents to opt their children out of classes containing LGBTQ content, figures or historical references, emails show.
Murrieta School District says parents have the ability to opt their children out of comprehensive sexual health, but parents are still not able to opt their children out of LGBTQ content when taught in other subjects, according to emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The district recently came under fire after a video from the conservative group Our Watch exposed progressive sex education programs in California teaching children about oral sex, masturbation, role-playing and more.
The video depicts ACLU staff attorney Ruth Dawson, according to Our Watch, instructing teachers on how to help students obtain abortions without parental consent. The video generated no local or national media coverage until a tipster alerted the DCNF.
An investigation by the DCNF found the California Board of Education implemented progressive sex and gender education curriculum in public schools across the state and that the ACLU was permitted to instruct California public school teachers on how to help children obtain abortions without parental consent.
Murrieta School District’s Monica Gutierrez of the Public Information Office sent a July 29 email warning parents that misinformation was being spread throughout the district. President of Our Watch, Pastor Tim Thompson, said the misinformation Gutierrez was referring to was the Our Watch video and subsequent media coverage.
“I am writing to you this morning because the inaccuracies and false information regarding comprehensive sexual health education is once again propagating our community,” Gutierrez wrote in an email to a group she referred to as “key communicators” obtained by the DCNF. She did not respond multiple requests for comment.
Gutierrez attached a pamphlet to the email, intended to distill rumors previously circulating in the community.
Thompson said he had proposed a model policy in a March email to the Murrieta School District that addressed concerns regarding LGBTQ content being taught to children. Gutierrez denied the request and told Thompson it was not possible for parents to opt their children out of LGBTQ content.
“We write in response to your request that the Murrieta Valley Unified School District (“District”) mandate opt-out notifications in grades K-12 from discussions that mention LGBTQ content, figures, or historical references,” Gutierrez wrote in a March 1 letter.
Gutierrez pointed out the California Healthy Youth Act, otherwise known as AB-329, mandates teachers and curricula “affirmatively recognize different sexual orientations, be inclusive of same-sex relationships, and teach students about gender, gender identity and gender expression.”
“For all sexual health education, instruction and materials used in the District’s sexual health and HIV education must be age appropriate, medically accurate, and appropriate for use with students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, English learners, and students with disabilities,” she continued.
The California Board of Education did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this mandate.
“In practice, this means that the above-mentioned criteria must be fused throughout the entirety of the curriculum,” Gutierrez added.
She said parents can opt their children out of the sex education courses but emphasized that California Healthy Youth Act has caused LGBTQ content to be included throughout a variety of courses and cannot reasonably allow parents to opt their children out of courses such as history.
Thompson told the DCNF he was moved to share pictures of Gutierrez’s emails on Facebook after the DCNF covered the Our Watch video.
“The fact that the Murrieta Valley Unified School District continues to mislead parents by telling them that they can opt out infuriates me,” Thompson told the DCNF.
“They quote the opt out right pertaining to sex ed and never tell the parents that the LGBTQ content in other classes can not be opted out of. Everything they show the parents has to do with sex ed, and parents don’t know that these issues are now in history, language arts, assemblies, and the like.”
Thompson said the district policy is made very clear in the March letter he received and has since posted on Facebook. He added that Murrieta is not the only district doing this.
“Similar tactics of deceiving parents are deployed in districts around our state, and our nation. It’s time for parents to apply some very hard pressure to their respective school boards.”
Thompson said he attended a Thursday board meeting with the Murrieta School District where he called on the board to declare the district a “Sanctuary School District” for parental rights.
He said his working definition of a “Sanctuary School District” refers to municipal jurisdictions in the United States that limit cooperation with the state government effort to “usurp the authority of parents in their children’s lives or to impose an ideology that is contrary to a family’s core values through state-mandated educational policies.”
Leaders of Sanctuary School Districts, Thompson said, want to reduce government control of families, empower parents and enact district-wide policies ensuring parental rights.
“They also reject the enforcement of AB329, SB48, or any other law requiring the teaching, approval, or encouragement of any type of sexual behavior,” Thompson said.
AB-329 was created in 2016 and aims to teach students how to ward off HIV and other STDs, to teach “healthy attitudes” toward sexual orientation, gender and relationships, and to “promote understanding of sexuality as a normal part of human development.”
Senate Bill 48 added the inclusion of certain groups “role and contributions” to the California Education Code, including a variety of ethnic and cultural groups as well as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans … with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society” according to the California Department of Education. The bill took effect in 2012, and material was interjected throughout K-12 instructional materials in 2017.
The bill also prohibits abstinence-only education and prohibits any discussion of religious doctrine, according to an ACLU handout.
Thompson emphasized before the board that the Murrieta School District teachers and boards must refuse to enact policies that require teachers to allow students to get abortions without parental consent.
“I’m hoping you all have the backbone to do that for the parents, and for the children, of our district,” Thompson said.
He added that Paul Diffley, board president, said after the meeting had adjourned that Thompson’s public speaking was a waste of time. Diffley did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
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