A group called the Concerned Parents of San Diego held their children from school to protest the district’s Sexual Health Education Program, SHEP. The group has complained at several school board meetings over the past year, alleging that the program uses pornographic materials and unsuitable for the classroom.

SHEP is compliance with California law which requires public schools to teach sexual health in grades 6, 8 and 10. Yet, like many opponents to sexual education, the Concerned Parents of San Diego consider the material too explicit for students and is calling on parents to opt-out of the courses.

“We want to make clear, we’re not against sex education; we just want sex education that’s age-appropriate, medically accurate and aligns with community values,” said one of the organizers.

Among the material the group finds objectionable is the award-winning It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris.

“Today’s pre-teens and teens need the most scientifically accurate and honest information and facts about puberty, sex, and sexual health, and safety,” Harris wrote in response to the controversy. “Education about sexual health is still the best prevention because when armed with facts, kids can then make informed decisions that can help them stay healthy and safe.”

NCAC has defended young people’s right to read It’s Perfectly Normal numerous times, most recently in Rainier, Oregon. San Diego District officials agree and released the following statement in response to the protests:

We encourage all parents to learn the facts about sexual health and how we teach it. We’ve created a website to make it easy for parents to get the information they need. Our education program was constructed with input from parents, faith leaders and community residents to comply with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s California Healthy Youth Act. After being informed about the program, less than 1 percent of parents chose to exclude their children from learning about sexual health when the curriculum was implemented district wide last school year.

Anyone who wants more information on sexual health should visit www.sandiegounified.org/shep

Robie Harris is a member of NCAC’s Board of Directors.