LGBT Center OC, Youth First OC to Rally for Comprehensive, Inclusive Sex Education

The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 21, 2018, Santa Ana, CA

Contact: Laura Kanter,

Director of Policy, Advocacy and Youth Services

Telephone: 714-953-5428, 949-294-3517

Email: laura.kanter@lgbtcenteroc.org

LGBT Center OC, Youth First OC to rally for comprehensive, inclusive sex education

The LGBT Center OC, Youth First OC and numerous state and community organizations will hold a press conference and rally Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Orange County Department of Education, 200 Kalmus Ave., Costa Mesa, to call for full implementation of the 2015 California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA). The California Ed Code law, which went into effect in January 2016, ​requires school districts to provide students with integrated, comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, at least once in high school and once in middle school. Among the goals of CHYA, the inclusivity mandate seeks to address the disparities experienced by LGBT youth whose issues have historically been excluded from sex ed curriculum. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) states that ​“for LGBTQ youth to experience comparable health benefits to their non-LGBTQ peers, sex education programs must be LGBTQ-inclusive”.

HRC notes that there is overwhelming fact-based research showing that​ ​“Inclusive programs are those that help youth understand gender identity and sexual orientation with age-appropriate and medically accurate information; incorporate positive examples of LGBTQ individuals, romantic relationships and families; emphasize the need for protection during sex for people of all identities; and dispel common myths and stereotypes about behavior and identity.”

Most districts across the state are complying with CHYA. However, despite the overwhelming research indicating that the absence of inclusive and comprehensive sex ed places LGBTQ youth at increased risk for negative sexual health and educational outcomes, pockets of opposition in Orange County are trying to thwart implementation..

This resistance is fueled by conservative Orange County Board of Education president Dr. Ken Williams, other school board trustees, and anti-LGBT lobbyists, who are spreading false narratives about the curriculum and inciting fear about discussions of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

William’s opposition to CHYA is even more shocking given that last week, OC Superintendent Al Mijares called a special meeting of all Department of Education staff to address an alarming survey about the health-related status of LGBT youth in Orange County. The data, analyzed by researchers at Chapman University in conjunction with the ACLU of Southern California, highlights the importance of increasing positive connections and protective factors as a way to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBT youth. According to the report, 5.4% of Orange County students identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 1% identify as transgender (more than 15,000 students). The report found that in one year in Orange County, approximately 45.8% to 49.2% middle school and high school LGBT youth, compared to 13.5% to 15.2% of non-LGBT youth, seriously considered suicide. According to one OCDE employee, the entire room listened in dead silence as the data was presented.

At a recent OCBE meeting, Williams suggested that the OC Department Education “not go by the letter of the law” but “redefine that letter of the law”. Williams, along with two other trustees, are using Department of Education funding to bring together a panel for a forum on CHYA but have refuses to publicize the name of the panelists until the day of the event. According to Laura Kanter from the LGBT Center OC, the Orange County Department of Education is having to work around Williams so that LGBT youth have the support they need. Kanter states that the OC Department of Education leadership and staff and School Board Trustees John Bedell and Becky Gomez do not support Dr. Williams’ forum and are concerned it will be result in further hurting the already marginalized LGBT community. Kanter sent in a public records request to find out who was on the secret panel, but Williams is refusing to cooperate with OC Department of Education counsel.

The CHYA opposition has brought a number of organizations, educators, faith leaders, and community members together under a banner of “Youth First OC”. They insist that the OC Board of Education forum on Sept. 26 will not provide education about CHYA but instead will provide a platform for anti-LGBT extremists pushing a political agenda that blatantly rejects the overwhelming evidence about what supports ALL students, including LGBT students.

In response, the LGBT Center OC along with Human Rights Campaign, Equality California, the Anti-Defamation League, CLUE OC, Moms Demand Action OC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and many others will be holding a rally at the same time as the forum, in front of the OC Department of Education to demand accountability from the OC Board of Education trustees and urge that they implement CHYA immediately.

Read more: Health and Safety of LGBT Youth in Orange County

CONTACT: Laura Kanter, laura.kanter@lgbtcenteroc.org, 714-953-5428 ext. 206

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