FREMONT, Calif. — A school district in California has voted to place the use of a health book that it had previously approved for ninth grade students on hold after outraged parents complained about the publication’s explicit sexual content.
The Fremont Unified School Board voted 3-2 on Wednesday to pull the book Your Health Today published by McGraw Hill, just two months after the board had approved it, and to use the previous year’s textbook for now. Health teachers had unanimously selected the publication to use in their classrooms.
However, as the book contains drawings of reproductive organs, references to masturbation, sex toys, bondage and sexual arousal, many parents were opposed to the material being taught to their children and stated that some content was “equivalent to pornography.”
As of press time, over 2,500 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of the publication, which they find inappropriate for children.
“[T]he Fremont community’s cultural values were ignored when Fremont Unified School District Board Members Ann Crosbie, Lara York, and Desrie Campbell voted to approve 9th grade Health text, ‘Your Health Today’ that exposes youth to sexual games, sexual fantasies, sexual bondage with handcuffs, ropes, and blindfolds, sexual toys and vibrator devices, and additional instruction that is extremely inappropriate for 13 and 14 year-old youth,” the petition states. “Therefore, we, the undersigned Fremont parents and community members, are deeply concerned, and we insist that the Fremont Unified School District permanently removes the college-level textbook, ‘Your Health Today’ from Fremont schools.”
According to Mercury News, school board President Lara Calvert-York said that ninth graders need to be taught about sexuality because many are already sexually active.
“We know this from student surveys done in our own district,” she told the newspaper. “Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe.”
Michele Hartmangruber, campus supervisor at Irvington High School, agreed.
“I want to let everyone know, if you think sex isn’t happening with your freshmen, you need to take your blinders off,” she stated before the school board. “It’s happening, and it’s happening in the corners, in the bathrooms, in the cars, in the parks and even on the 50-yard line in front of everyone.”
The district states that it is in talks with McGraw Hill to make adjustments to the textbook in light of parental concerns. The book also discusses same-sex “marriage,” body image, the use of drugs and alcohol, fitness and nutrition, and other topics.
“Administration and staff believes the textbook will be an asset to our health curriculum in that it provides the current, accurate, factual and relevant information our students need to make responsible decisions about their health,” Superintendent Jim Morris said in a statement. “I also recognize and respect the concerns of some of our families, and believe this recommendation is a great compromise that will address those opinions while still working toward ultimately providing the best curriculum possible in our schools.”
Parents who attended Wednesday’s meeting that ended in the 3-2 vote to place a hold on the book were divided about the matter, with some speaking in opposition and others finding the content to be nothing out of the ordinary.
“If you listen to popular music, if you read popular books, if you see popular movies, none of the content in the book contains anything our kids haven’t already been exposed to,” parent Dianne Jones told the board, according to NBC Bay Area.
“I do not trust you with my child,” declared parent Jim Schultz. “I’m sorry, I cannot see anything that a child needs to know in ninth grade about bondage. What are you teaching them?”