Let’s Talk About ‘Teen Talk’

Credit: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune, PA

On Tuesday, March 17, the Santa Barbara school board would have undoubtably voted to pass the very controversial Teen Talk Sex Education Curriculum in the S.B. Unified School District for the 7th– and 8th-grade students.

According to Dr. Anne Roundy-Harter’s report given on February 11, a mere 27 people responded. Oddly, the district’s proud, diverse population, especially of the Hispanic community, were alarmingly an absent and unrepresented population in Dr. Roundy-Harter’s report. Teen Talk is not is Spanish except for a few worksheets. Results were based on 17 responses from physical education and health science teachers, 16 responses from parents of S.B. Junior High parents, and results from nine community members. This is woefully inadequate to say the least; Roundy-Harter makes recommendations for about 14,000 students district wide!

However, in less than one week 300 parents and community members filled the S.B. board meeting on February 25 to reject Teen Talk and to offer an alternative state-approved curriculum: the Heart Curriculum. The parents asked for a public forum to review both curriculums side by side — it has not happened. The author of the Heart Curriculum, R. Skip Hellewell, reached out to the board and Roundy-Harter. Hellewell offered his time to review the Heart Curriculum with them and to give a community forum. Unfortunately, those 300 parents and community members that showed up to the board meeting to reject Teen Talk were viewed as “closed minded Christians” and as not wanting the students to have sex ed or to be informed as how to best take care of themselves.

No, we want sex ed for the students, but you don’t have to be a Christian to see that Teen Talk is too sexually explicit, liberally progressive, offensive to some students, and pushes an agenda on all students. We want Sex Ed for our students, but we disagree as to the materials in Teen Talk. At last note parents are responsible for their children. CA Education Code 51937 (2017) says, “…parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.”

The Heart Curriculum meets all state requirements, addresses all the issues of sex education, HIV protection, STDs, making informed decisions, includes parents interviews, honoring of oneself, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender ideology, negative stereotypes, pornography, sexting, legal age of consent, sex trafficking, negotiating skills, and much more. The Heart Curriculum does not have a political or ideological objective and protects all students from intrusions & injustices.

The Santa Barbara school district is not the only district in California or the nation grappling with these issues. On May 20, 2018, Orange County’s School Board voted down by 6-1 the Teen Talk Curriculum due to “community opposition and controversy over medical inaccuracy.” And the Orange County Register wrote, “Concerning medical accuracy, CHOC Hospital pediatrician attended the meeting and stated: ‘In reviewing Teen Talk, students are not being told medically accurate statistics regarding the effectiveness of condom use in anal sex. They are not being told the truth that anal sex is the highest risk behavior for transmission of HIV and other STD’s especially since condoms are not FDA approved for anal sex.’” The article further states, “Education Code 60002 says, each district board…shall promote the involvement of parents…in the selection of instructional materials.”

In 2015, Virginia’s Fairfax County School District adopted a “gender ideology policy” in two weeks without parent notification. Teen Talk embraces gender ideology. Fairfax County School District is a warning to all school districts and boards on what not to do — lawsuits are currently pending. As Fairfax County attests it was a “Race to Embrace Policy. No scoping of the issues, no community engagement, no data driven discussion, no consultant reports. Parents on both side of the issue are STILL unsatisfied 5 years later.”

Students on both sides of the issue to this day do not feel safe when biological males who “identify as female” use the same restrooms, locker rooms, athletic teams, overnight trips, and hotel rooms. Fairfax County School District said that “changes of this magnitude” usually take 12-18 months. S.B. school board is heading down the very same path in a hurry to get a sex ed curriculum adopted in sharp opposition to the parents and community. They have not thoroughly scoped the nature, impact, and surrounding issues of such a monumental decision encompassing 14,000 students, not to mention parents, families, more modest cultures, teachers, administrators, and facilities. Why doesn’t the board want to accept the wishes of parents and review the Heart Curriculum? Why is the school district not protecting all students and families?

As adults we all know that childhood and youth in the teens is a very impactful season of life and very short lived. Why not protect all students by offering a sex ed curriculum that is non-offensive yet meets state standards? Kids don’t need adults teaching and encouraging a curriculum that is offensive to even one student. Teen Talk is very offensive to many students, parents, and community members.

If not for our current situation of sheltering in place and dealing with the coronavirus, Teen Talk certainly would have been a “slam dunk!” As for now the students are at home with their families. In this time of “pause,” I would implore all people in authority over their families and communities to write letters to the various outlets, to the S.B. school board and to stand up for all students! Let’s hope and pray a favorable and unoffensive curriculum can be voted on for all students and families!

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