Love & Liberty: A Catholic Approach to Sex Ed
As Catholics, we believe that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that families are the “privileged community” where children grown in wisdom, stature, and grace (CCC 2206-2209). Pope Francis has reaffirmed that the Catholic Church’s view of parents as the primary educators of children, and schools-Catholic and non-Catholic-as partners in the educational process. Thus the Church counsels us to work with public authorities to ensure and protect parental rights. In the Holy Father’s words, “Schools do not replace parents, but complement them.”
“Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them.” (Article V.c., Catholic Charter of the Rights of the Family)
What is the California Healthy Youth Act?
On January 1, 2016, the California Healthy Youth Act (“CHYA”) went into effect requiring California public school districts to provide students in grades seven through twelve with comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention information, including gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. There is ambiguity regarding the opt-out provisions in the instruction of involving discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Parents have the right to excuse their children from some or all instruction discussing human reproductive organs. Under the law, school districts may also offer “age-appropriate” instruction earlier than grade 7, and many do. Each school district can determine its own curriculum. Schools are required to inform parents and guardians a minimum of 14 days in advance and parents and guardians have a right to review all materials. Parents also have the right to excuse their children from tests, questionnaires and surveys relating to sex. To excuse a child, a parent must state his or her request in writing to the school district.
What You Can Do
- Contact your school district to investigate how your respective district plans to implement the sex education curriculum.
- Request to review the curriculum
- You have a right to opt-out without penalty; however, you must do so in writing. Ask your school/district what opt-out form is required for all or part of the comprehensive sexual health education.
- Get additional information about the law and in which area a parent or guardian can opt-out.
Recommended Reading for Parents
- Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Greg and Lisa Pocak
- Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution by Christopher West
- Reclaiming Sundays: Pray, Play, Serve, Rest, Refresh, and Celebrate by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Resources for Catechists and Youth Ministers
- Curriculum Rooted in Theology of the Body
- Pornography / Navigating Modern Technology Use
- Catholic Guidelines for Sex Education
- Conversations About L.I.F.E.
- February 22, 2020
- March 7, 2020
- April 18, 2020 (Spanish)