Your Health Today removed from classrooms in Fremont, with anatomical drawings and passages on ‘erotic touch’ slammed as ‘borderline pornography’ at school board meeting
A sex education book has been pulled from classrooms in Fremont, California, after more than 2,000 protesters objected to its “inappropriate” coverage of sex.
The textbook, Your Health Today, was introduced in June to the six high schools in Fremont, intended for the use of the schools’ 2,400 ninth-graders (aged 13-14), according to San Francisco Gate. But parents were quick to voice objections to the health and sex education title, which is pitched as “a guide for healthy living in college and beyond”, with one telling the local site that it is “not age-appropriate for these kids”, and others attacking drawings of sexual organs as “not necessary for these children”.
Images from the book provided by SF Gate show anatomical drawings and text on “erotic touch”, which is described as “a sensual form of communication that can elicit feelings of tenderness and affections as well as sexual feelings”. “Skin in the nonspecific erogenous zones of the body (the inner thighs, armpits, shoulders, feet, ears, and sides of the back and neck),” write authors Michael Teague, Sarah Mackenzie and David Rosenthal, “contains more nerve endings than do many other areas; these areas are capable of being aroused by touch.”
A mention of bondage drew particular ire from parents: the book describes it as a game in which “restriction of movement (eg using handcuffs or ropes) or sensory deprivation (using blindfolds or masks) is employed for sexual enjoyment”, adding that readers should only do what “they are comfortable doing”, reported Slate.
One signatory to a petition calling for the book’s removal from schools wrote: “This will pollute the minds of the children, and at my age I call this book disgusting and sickening. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; teaching the children about sex is left for the parents to do.” Another felt that “the explanation of sex and the consequences of it should be taught. It should be taught that the kids should wait until they are married before having sex.”
The petition, which says the book “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 [sic]”, has now gathered over 2,000 signatures, and on Wednesday the school board said the book would be returned to its publisher, McGraw-Hill, “in the hopes it can be modified to satisfy parents’ concerns”, according to SF Gate.
The decision followed a school board meeting last night, the site reported, at which parents described the book as “borderline pornography” and “a how-to for sex”.
Last week Lara Calvert-York, the school-board president, had defended the text, saying: “Yes, it talks about masturbation … We really want them to have a safe place to get facts about their bodies and how to handle things and how they need to be mature to deal with these things.”
Calvert-York also told the San Jose Mercury News that many students are already sexually active in ninth grade, and that the year “is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe”.
In a statement, Superintendent Jim Morris announced he would recommend “the board put the book on hold until the district could work with the publisher to delete some of the content”.
“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,” said Morris. “I also recognise 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.”
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