The LGBT Center OC, Youth First OC and numerous state and community organizations will hold a press conference and rally Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Orange County Department of Education, 200 Kalmus Ave., Costa Mesa, to call for full implementation of the 2015 California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA). The California Ed Code law, which went into effect in January 2016, requires school districts to provide students with integrated, comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, at least once in high school and once in middle school. (https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/se/faq.asp). Among the goals of CHYA, the inclusivity mandate seeks to address the disparities experienced by LGBT youth whose issues have historically been excluded from sex ed curriculum. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) states that “for LGBTQ youth to experience comparable health benefits to their non-LGBTQ peers, sex education programs must be LGBTQ-inclusive”.
Most districts across the state are complying with CHYA. However, despite the overwhelming research indicating that the absence of inclusive and comprehensive sex ed places LGBTQ youth at increased risk for negative sexual health and educational outcomes, pockets of opposition in Orange County are trying to thwart implementation. (https://edsource.org/2018/most-districts-complying-with-californias-sex-ed-law-but-resistance-remains/602236). Last week, OC Superintendent Al Mijares called a special meeting of all Department of Education staff to present data, analyzed by researchers at Chapman University, highlighting the importance of increasing positive connections and protective factors as a way to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBT youth.
This resistance is fueled by conservative Orange County Board of Education president Dr. Ken Williams and anti-LGBT lobbyists, who have been spreading misinformation and inciting fear about discussions of different sexual orientations and gender identities. At a May 9 meeting of the OC Board of Education, Williams stated he felt compelled “not go by the letter of the law” but “redefine that letter of the law” because of his “biblical background” (OC Board of Education Transcript May 9, 2018).
On Wednesday, Sept. 26, Williams is holding a community forum about CHYA at the Orange County Department of Education with a panel of speakers whose names he has refused to make public until the day of the event. Laura Kanter of the LGBT Center OC sent in a public records request to find out who was on the secret panel, but Williams is refusing to cooperate with OC Department of Education counsel.
Kanter has been able to get a list of the panelists that have confirmed as of last Friday, Sept. 20 through other methods and states that there are no panelists from the LGBT community nor are any of the speakers experts on CHYA or sexual health education.
The CHYA opposition has brought a number of organizations, educators, faith leaders, and community members together under a banner of “Youth First OC”. They insist that the OC Board of Education forum on Sept. 26 will not provide education about CHYA but instead will provide a platform for anti-LGBT extremists pushing a political agenda that blatantly rejects the overwhelming evidence about what supports ALL students, including LGBT students.
The LGBT Center OC and Youth First OC, along with Human Rights Campaign, Equality California, the Anti-Defamation League, Moms Demand Action OC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and many others will be holding a rally at the same time as the forum, in front of the OC Department of Education, to demand accountability from the OC Board of Education trustees and urge that they implement CHYA immediately.
Speak OUT! Defend CHYA Press Conference and Rally
Wednesday, Sept. 26
in front of the OC Dept. of Education
200 Kalmus., Costa Mesa
contact: Laura Kanter 949-294-3517
Human Rights Campaign
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties
Orange County Equality Coalition
Moms Demand Action OC
Freedom for Immigrants
Indivisible OC 46
Together We Will OC
Danny Cortez, Pastor, New Heart Community Church
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, Path With Heart
Rabbi Arnold Rachlis
Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Temple Beth Shalom
Reverend Karen Stoyanoff
Reverend Kent Doss, Tapestry UU
OC Organizing Crew
Temple Beth El of SOC
National Women’s Political Caucus of Orange County
Pacific Shore Now
Laura W. Kanter, MSW | Director of Policy, Advocacy and Youth Programs
She| Her | Hers
LGBT Center OC