By Brad Dacus
President, Pacific Justice Institute
LAFAYETTE – Controversy is growing in a Northern California community as parents have learned disturbing new details about recent sex-ed presentations for freshmen in the Acalanes Union High School District.
For months, parents have pushed school officials for answers about who was involved and what was being taught by Planned Parenthood on campus. Just before Christmas, in response to a public records request from Pacific Justice Institute, the district finally identified some of the PP employees involved with the program. Parents are now more concerned than ever.
The parents started asking more questions and learned that one of the sex-ed instructors at Acalanes High School, when she is not working for Planned Parenthood, leads “pleasure workshops” demonstrating the use of sex toys for a sex toy porn shop in Berkeley called Good Vibrations. It is not yet clear what this instructor may have told students about the store’s offerings.
Parents also identified the public Twitter feed of another sex-ed instructor at Acalanes High School, the PP education manager for Northern California, where she calls herself a “pleasure activist.” She commented enthusiastically on attending the CatalystCon pornography conference for her continuing education along with other Planned Parenthood representatives, just prior to teaching at AHS this past fall.
This event attracts leading members of the porn industry and focuses on topics like using explicit instructional media for sex-ed, the history of sex toys and how to effectively share your sex life on the stage and on the page. Other tweets (since deleted) by this instructor are too vulgar to be included here.
PJI previously reported on the district’s use of racy sex checklists, a diagram of the “Genderbread Person,” and coaching students in asking each other if it’s OK to take their clothes off. In a letter sent to PJI in early January, a lawyer for the district strongly defended the program as “age appropriate” and claimed the sex checklists were merely “idea-generating worksheets” rather than illegal surveys or questionnaires.
Although the district is promising to continue the controversial program, there are signs it is beginning to feel the parents’ pressure. After being confronted with the backgrounds of the two instructors outlined above, Superintendent John Nickerson confirmed to parents that neither of those individuals would take part in the sex-ed program that began Jan. 5. The district has not disclosed, however, who would be teaching the class and has previously admitted it does not conduct background checks on PP instructors.
As president of Pacific Justice Institute, I commented, “It has become clear that Acalanes officials have breached parental trust at every turn. They have brought individuals into the classroom who should not be anywhere near a school campus, and they continue to defend an indefensible program. In light of these most recent revelations, we are renewing our call to the district to suspend its relationship with Planned Parenthood and make sweeping changes to comply with the letter and spirit of state law. We are also calling on responsible journalists to join us in asking tough questions and holding the district accountable for these serious lapses in judgment.”