Sexual Education in California: A View from Rocklin

I am a husband and father of four here in Rocklin. One of our daughters just graduated from Rocklin High School, another is at RHS, and two more will be there in the next several years. In addition, I serve as the senior pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, where we have been for the past eight years. In our years of living in Rocklin, we have come to love the community, the people, and the commitment to the children of our neighborhoods.

It is for all these reasons that I attended the open forum hosted by Informed Parents of Rocklin this past week. You can find more information about them HERE, and a link to the slides from their presentation HERE.

There has been talk in the news over the past several years about changes to the sex education programs here in California. It is difficult sometimes to sift out the important from the unimportant in the news. But teaching our children about what it means to be male and female is something that is very important to me as a Christian, because it is so rooted in our creation in God’s image. It is for that reason that I went to the forum.

I had several concerns going into it. One was misinformation. We received a communication from the superintendent of RUSD the day before the forum, indicating that there would be exaggerations, irrelevant materials, and in some cases outright false information. Informed Parents of Rocklin has answered these claims HERE. The original communication from RUSD may be found HERE.

Another concern I had was politicization. I have no problems with people speaking their mind and asking for votes. This is a part of our process here in the United States. But I was concerned that the whole thing could be basically a setup or bait-and-switch for a Republican Party rally.

With those concerns in mind, here is what I saw and experienced.

There were between 300–400 people in attendance. The vast majority of them were “parent” age, between thirty and fifty years old. There were also people who were in more of the grandparent category. They were polite and respectful, and it was clear that these were people who are concerned and want to know more about what is going on with their children. If there were school board members or RUSD teachers present, they didn’t identify themselves as such, at least not to me.

The event was moderated by a staff member from one of our state senators. The bulk of the presentation was done by three women who called themselves moms in RUSD and a couple neighboring school districts. Their presentations, each about twenty minutes long, were factual and straightforward, with very little editorializing about the content. Their goal was first of all to inform the attendees about what is happening in our school districts in three areas:

  • Comprehensive Sexuality Education
  • History/Social Science Curriculum Changes in 2019
  • Health Education Framework

I am not going to rehearse the content of each of these areas. I would encourage you, especially if you are a Rocklin area parent, to go to their web site HERE and evaluate the material for yourself. It’s all there. They have dozens and dozen of examples from current textbooks as well as from the health framework, which will be used as the template for the next generation of textbooks. I will warn you, though. This material is graphic. It will make you uncomfortable. It might even make you angry, thinking of the children that are exposed to this every day.

There is one section that I do want to pull out from the over 100 slides. It has to do with the topic of what was called “spiritual abuse.” Here is the slide:

What is so dangerous about this concept of spiritual abuse is that it defines anything other than what the textbook holds as “normal” is now termed “abuse.” So if I say that male and female are distinct roles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and that this is the way God created us, that is now “abuse.” This is, for the record, what has been taught in the Judeo-Christian tradition for thousands of years. This is hardly radical or weird. But I seriously fear that my teaching, either as a parent or as a pastor, could be categorized as “spiritual abuse” in the not too distant future.

I have several takeaways from this event, in no particular order.

  • What is being taught in our schools under the guise of sexual health and reproductive health education is in some cases inappropriate, in others politically motivated, and what I would call in some instances predatory.
  • It is getting harder and harder to distinguish between what is a religious or moral claim from a political claim. If I say, for example, that according to God’s Word marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, is that a religious statement or a political statement?
  • How can I easily determine what, out of all of this, is actually being taught in RUSD? I know some is and some is not, but I don’t have the time or resources to sift through it all. I don’t want to be unreasonable in expressing my concerns to the school district.
  • What is the best way for me as a parent in the Rocklin school district to engage with my children’s teachers and administrators about what is going on? I can opt out of some areas, but there are others (e.g. social studies) where there is no mechanism for opting out. Does that mean pulling my children from school on that day is an act of civil disobedience?
  • How do I as a Lutheran pastor in the Rocklin area teach my own families about what is good, right and true, and how do I teach them on what they should for their own children when it comes to talking about sex, gender, religion, and politics?

I’m very thankful for the organizers of the event, and for William Jessup University and their willingness to host it. I have more questions than answers at this point. I am, honestly, angry that my own children live in a time when they may be exposed to these things in the classroom. I want what is best for them, and from what I observed, the way that California, and even RUSD, are approaching topic of sex education is both wrong and exceedingly dangerous. I want to help make things better. Who is with me?

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