Anna Sheffer
Updated May 09, 2019

When done right, sex-ed classes provide some of the most crucial life lessons students will ever learn. Unfortunately, in many parts of the U.S., sex-ed is severely lacking. Research has debunked abstinence-only sex-education, yet it remains the only option in many states. And topics like LGBTQ identity rarely, if ever, get addressed in the classroom. However, California recently took steps to change that with its new sex-ed guidelines.

According to NBC News, on May 8th, the California State Board of Education approved the policy, which include curriculum recommendations for teachers. Under the new guidelines, teachers are encouraged to discuss gender identity with students as early as kindergarten and are provided with ways to talk about puberty with transgender teens. The new recommendations also suggest teaching middle-schoolers about masturbation and clarifying that it’s not harmful (however, it should be noted that schools are not required to follow these guidelines).

Samuel Garret-Pate, Communications Director for Equality California, told the Associated Press that he supports the new guidelines.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a 2016 law requires public schools in California to discuss HIV prevention and sexual health. State officials also told the paper that schools are required to discuss contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, some parents aren’t happy with the new guidelines. According to California NBC affiliate KCRA, six books recommended in the new guidelines led to some parents protesting outside the Department of Education over concerns that they were sexually explicit. One book, which was previously recommended for high-schoolers and later removed, came under fire for containing information about anal sex and bondage.

The bottom line is that the American sexual education curriculum needs an overhaul, and we’re glad California is taking steps toward a more comprehensive, inclusive program.