A California judge has ruled that current sexual education courses that promote abstinence until marriage do not follow the requirements set by previously agreed upon curriculum.
Fresno County, California Judge Donald Black’s ruling only applies to 40,000 students located in the Clovis Unified School District. In his opinion, Black focused on the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies in the United States, stating that information on these health issues “is an important public right,” Think Progress reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs in the case, and consider the ruling a milestone in discussing abstinence and sexual behavior among adolescents.
“This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically accurate,” Phyllida Burlingame, the director of reproductive justice policy, told reporters after the ruling on April 28. She believed the ruling sent a message to other educational institutions throughout the country that “young people need complete, accurate health information required by law.”
A group of parents filed the lawsuit in November 2012, alleging that school administrators were promoting abstinence only methods through texts and videos to students, without discussing contraception or dismissing their effectiveness. After the district changed their policies, the suit was dismissed in February 2014; Judge Black still ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that the district would have to pay the parents’ attorney fees, the San Francisco Gate reported.
“Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right,” the Judge said.
In 2003, California schools were barred from providing sexual education classes that held biased or inaccurate information. However, there are no federal requirements or regulations to teach sexual education in public schools, leaving it up to the district to decide what methods are best in educating young adolescents.