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California: Comprehensive Sex Ed, Apprehensive Parents

By Greg Tartaglione, SIECUS Program Research Intern

A student’s parents in San Marcos, California believe that their daughter’s sexuality education class crossed the line when it included an eighth grade class activity designed to discuss what was appropriate for dating for middle schoolers. The activity asked students to stand under signs indicating which behaviors they felt were appropriate for middle school students. The signs read “smiled at” “hugged” “kissed” “above the waist” “below the waist” or “all the way.”

When a student in the class at Woodland Park Middle School claimed that she and her peers thought they were being asked how far they have gone and were willing to go sexually, her parents contacted their local ABC news channel to publicize the incident.[1]

The parents say the lesson didn’t teach their child anything but left her feeling peer pressured.  “For the children to get that confused is just another reason why it [sexuality education] shouldn’t even be in the schools.”[2]

A writer for the website BizPac Review (“Conservative News You Can Trust”) worried that “making 14-year-old girls openly stand under signs proclaiming their willingness to go “all the way”… is a pretty good way of opening the lines of communication on boys’ bathroom walls, too.”[3]

Woodland Park’s principal noted that “the purpose of the lesson was to open the lines of communication between parents and students about dating expectations" which certainly has happened as a result of the uproar.[4]

According to the principal, the lesson, which took place in a “family life and health class,” was led by an educator from a community clinic which has taught sex education at the school for the past few years. The San Marcos school board switched from an abstinence-only program called Worth the Wait to an “abstinence-plus” sex education curriculum called Draw the Line/Respect the Line for middle schools back in 2010.[5] The school makes the Draw the Line/Respect the Line curriculum available for parents to review before lessons are taught and parents must sign permission slips before their children are enrolled in the class.

[1]Kandiss Crone, “Parents outraged over sex education lesson,” ABC10 News, June 4, 2014, accessed June 30, 2014 at


[3]Joe Saunders, “Sex-ed for eighth-graders out of control; girls asked to publicly declare ‘how far’ they would go,” BizPac Review, June 9, 2014, accessed June 30, 2014 at


[5]Bill Peterson, Sean Batura “San Marcos CISD trustees adopt ‘abstinence plus’,” San Marcos Mercury, July 19, 2010, accessed June 30, 2014 at