Stephen Ellison

Sex Education Curriculum Sparks Debate, Petition in Fremont School District

The topic of sex education has sparked a heated debate in one Bay Area community, even before the lessons have started.

The Fremont Unified School District is set to launch a series of lessons titled Health, Puberty and Sexuality, and the proposed curriculum has prompted an online petition opposing it.

Starting in April, Fremont Unified students in grades 4-6 are scheduled to be taught lessons in health, puberty and sexuality in what the district says is "essential information that is imperative to students' well-being."

Lisa Rivera, a teacher and mother of a sixth grader in the district, said she's concerned about the content being used and its "age appropriateness."

Other parents share her concerns, launching an online petition on aiming to block or delay the lessons. The group calling itself Concerned Parents of FUSD says the district’s approach will focus on sexuality and lead to "sexualizing our children."

The district adamantly denied the program focuses solely on sexuality and said it has not been contacted by the petition group. It added that the more than 2,600 signatures collected thus far are from around the country, not necessarily the community.

District officials said the curriculum follows state law and standards, emphasizing information and communication.

"We want our students to have vocabulary, have the words and understand what’s going on," said Denise Herrmann, associate superintendent. "So, if something out of the ordinary happens, they can let a trusted adult know about that."

Curriculum Director Linda Anderson said the lessons will help prepare students for the different things that are happening in society and how they can handle being bullied, sexually harassed and for puberty.

Rivera agrees.

"Whether we’re teaching it at home or we’re teaching it at school, at some point kids do need to learn some of the concepts and terms," she said.

The petition group could not be reached for comment. There are no stated plans on what it will do with the petition.

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