LOS ANGELES – Parents in Palmdale, Calif., are outraged about a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that says they have no constitutional right to prevent public schools from providing information on sex to their children.
Twenty-five students at a Palmdale elementary school were given a survey that included questions like, "How often do you think about sex," and "Do you think about touching other people's private parts?" The parents sued, saying that the contents of the survey were inappropriate for their children.
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The 9th Circuit ruled that "parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on sex to their students in any forum or manner they select."
And the court agreed with the school district that it was a matter of state, not federal law. Under California education law, parents have the right to opt their children out of learning material that they aren't comfortable with.
Parents say they couldn't opt their kids out of the survey, because they were told that their kids would be taking a survey about childhood trauma, not sex. The school has since apologized, but the parents have said that the issue has gone beyond a local mistake.
"Parents have no liberties, no rights over their children, and the schools can teach anything to their children. So apparently for this court, condoms for kindergarten students are okay, pornography is permissible — parents cannot object," said Mathew Staver, an attorney for the parents.
The 9th Circuit is no stranger to controversy. Steven Reinhardt, the judge who wrote the opinion for the Palmdale case, also authored a finding that said the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.
The Palmdale case, like the Pledge of Allegiance case before it, is likely to head to the Supreme Court, and the publicity has many lawmakers already promising to take action.