BY ROXANA KOPETMAN / STAFF WRITER / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER | http://bit.ly/1EL246H
California legislators are poised to expand high school sex education, with the nation's first law directing teachers to tell students about sexual consent. The state Senate is expected to vote on the bill Friday. If approved, it moves to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. FILE: YUI MOK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sept. 3, 2015 Updated Sept. 5, 2015 12:24 a.m. :: California legislators are poised to expand high school sex education, with the nation’s first law directing teachers to tell students about sexual consent.
The California Senate is expected to vote today on SB695, which would require most public school districts to teach students in health classes about such issues as sexual harassment, assault, violence and the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships. If approved, the bill would head to Gov. Jerry Brown for his consideration.
The bill by Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, piggybacks on the bill passed last year. That law, also the first of its kind, requires state-funded colleges to beef up investigations of sexual assault reports and establish clear rules about sexual consent.
Supporters describe the laws as part of a national conversation about sexual assaults on campuses.
“If we want to prevent sexual assault, it’s important that we start early,” Jackson said in a statement.
“This bill will ensure that discussions about healthy relationships and consent are taking place in high school, with young women and young men, so we can help establish boundaries of acceptable behavior... and prevent sexual assault before it occurs.”
In California, sex education is not required, but about 96 percent of the state’s school districts provide it, according to the California Department of Education website.
School districts typically include sex education as part of a required health course, often taken during freshman year. Instruction on HIV and AIDS prevention is obligatory for all schools.
The De León/Jackson bill was greeted with mixed reviews in Orange County.
“I think knowledge is power, and the best way for students to take care of themselves is to be informed,” said Shireen Rogers, president of the University High School PTSA in Irvine.
Some school board members, speaking on their own behalf, said they did not appreciate Sacramento adding more to their plate.
“My gut reaction: Education is so overwhelmed with this baggage,” said Katherine Smith, a trustee of the Anaheim Union High School District.
“We really need to concentrate on our kids learning math and English and history, and respect for the value of education. We get so tied down in these strings that are all attached.”
Los Alamitos Unified School District trustee Jeff Barke called it another sign of loss of local control.
“I don’t like Sacramento telling us over and over and over again how to take care of our schools,” said Barke, a physician who has plans to lecture at Los Alamitos High School’s health class about drugs and drinking.
Tim Brown, a San Clemente councilman and a father to four girls, said he appreciates the intent of the law but questions how it will be implemented and whether it can accomplish its goals.
“Who wouldn’t want our daughters and sons to not be prepared for relationships in the future,” Brown said. “... Parents should ensure these lessons are taught at home and their children are ready for life.”
The bill won support from the California Teachers Association, the Association of California School Administrators, the University of California Student Association and eight other groups. The only group to voice opposition was the California Right to Life Committee.