Parents across California planned to keep their children home from school and attend state-wide sit-outs dubbed the "SeXXX Ed" rallies Friday to protest a recent controversial overhaul of the sexual education guidance.
The Health Education Framework, which was approved last week by the California State Board of Education, provides information for school teachers to use in the sex education curriculum and suggests talking to kindergartners about gender identity, using LGBTQ-inclusive language, advising teenagers on navigating relationships and having safe sex. It also suggests teaching students about sex trafficking and the continued teaching of HIV prevention.
Teachers are not required to teach anything in the framework, since it only acts as a guide.
While some residents praised the guidance for being inclusive, some parents and conservative groups have protested the changes, arguing that the new framework exposes children to ideas that should be taught at home.
The controversy predominantly centers on whether the suggested material in the framework is age-appropriate, especially on topics such as masturbation and gender identity.
The framework provides guides for teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade and differentiates lessons for four main age groups: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade, according to an online draft of the framework.
Some parents have also protested certain books suggested in the framework, such as "S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties." Protesters described the material discussed in the book as explicit and graphic.
When the framework was approved on May 8, around 200 protesters gathered outside the state Capitol holding signs that read “No to Explicit Sex Ed” and “Too Much Too Soon,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Friday's state-wide sit-outs were started at 11 a.m. and took place at each county's department of education building, according to a post by the Informed Parents of California.
In Los Angeles, the protest was held at the Los Angeles County Office of Education on 9300 Imperial Highway in Downey where protestors held signs that said "No SeXXX Ed" and "Stop Attacking Our Parental Rights."
One parent holding a "Mama Bear Says No" sign told KTLA that she was protesting the guidance to protect parental rights.
The mother said she views the guidance's recommendation to speak with children in kindergarten about identifying as transgender as wrong and "confusing my daughter to think that she is OK to feel as a boy at such a young age when I can teach my children that everything has a time."
Another mother at the protest said, "this is too much too soon."