COACHELLA, Calif. - Thousands of parents around California kept their children out school today to protest what they call, "sexually-charged" content in sex education classes.
The "Alliance to Protect Children" organized a statewide protest of Assembly Bill 329. According to the legislative counsel's digest, the revised version of AB 329, now named the California Healthy Youth Act, would require school districts to ensure that students in grades 7 to 12 receive "comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, as specified."
Protesters gathered in front of their local state legislator's office to send a message, arguing that AB 329 takes away their rights as parents.
Locally, there was a protest Thursday morning in front of the office of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia in Coachella. America Figueroa, a local parent, told News Channel 3 that she is already planning further action if changes aren't made
"We're making a statement if they do not change this law then we will definitely change them, and we will make sure of that," Figueroa said.
One parent said they disapprove of the way the topics are being handled in classrooms.
"We don't want them to be exposed to too much too soon. We do want them to learn, however, when the time is right because this affects kids a lot, especially the small kids who don't know and they want to put things in their heads that aren't right," said Saraí Mendoza, a mother who participated in the protest.
Some parents at this morning's rally brought up their specific opposition to their children learning about transgender people.
According to the California Department of Education, AB 329, students must learn that about "gender, gender expression, gender identity, and explore the harm of negative gender stereotypes." The post continues, "This means that schools must teach about all sexual orientations and what being LGBTQ means."
One student said they were "uncomfortable" learning about transgender and different sexual orientations.
Garcia says parents actually do have the right to opt-out. He wrote in a statement, "It is very important to dispel any myths and ensure that our school districts are providing families with accurate information about the curriculums they will be implementing. Especially that parents have the right to opt-out and school districts must honor that right."
The Palm Springs Unified School District writes on their website that "a parent can be selective on what topics they would like to have their child opt-out of," however, LGBTQ content can't be the topic to opt out of.
"Education Code 51933 specifically states that LGBT content is required and opting out of only this portion is biased and creates a hostile environment," reads the post on PSUSD's website.
Parents say they will continue to protest AB 329 until it is changed.
Full statement from Garcia:
"My office and I have been actively engaged on this issue. I have met with several parents as well as organizers, and we even worked to facilitate discussions with local schools districts and with the Author of the legislation's office. We are committed to making ourselves as helpful as possible. It is very important to dispel any myths and ensure that our school districts are providing families with accurate information about the curriculums they will be implementing. Especially that parents have the right to opt-out and school districts must honor that right."
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