A Moral Miseducation: 10 Ways California’s Sex Ed Culture is Harming Gen Z

Recently, I attended a rally at our local school board, where concerned parents had gathered to share feedback on the county’s adoption of a progressively liberal sexual education curricula. Not only did the school board delay the meeting by two hours, while parents waited outside in the rain, but once the outspoken parents entered the public forum, some of the elected school board officials walked out of the meeting instead of allowing parents to voice their concerns publicly. In this blog, I provide some background on the social issue, the current curricula, and the effects on the next generation.

As a professor in California for over a decade, I see daily the devastating effects of the aggressive, liberal, sex ed propaganda in the public sector. Though I teach in the private sector, most of my students are products of California’s public school environment, and thus, involved, caring professors often find ourselves picking up the shards of students’ lives after they have been misinformed, misguided, and maltreated by the public system. As evidenced in a plethora of studies and news reports, the next generation is hurting, anxious, lonely, and desperate for the good news that they have value, that they are worth more than the objectification of their bodies. However, instead of offering hope, the current system preys on generational insecurities, dragging behavioral expectations to the lowest level.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego County’s curricula, the Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP), details are available at 3rs.org and at sandiegounified.org/SHEP. If you are a parent who has placed your precious children in the public school’s care, whether traditional or charter, note especially the specific lesson plans for each grade: The elementary curriculum introduces 10 – 12 year olds to the idea of bathing together as a measure for avoiding STDs, and the 9th grade study of biology, which should begin with zygotic life and the analysis and classification of bacterial kingdoms, is instead riddled with aggressive lobbyist views on sexual identity. Ironically, it’s difficult to find a hint of actual science in the science lesson.

The teachers’ guide for SHEP notes on page 8 that “rather than attempting to be ‘values-free,’ (the curriculum) conscientiously embraces a set of values that are widely accepted in our society.” However, it remains to be seen exactly whose values are represented therein. As the California Family Council (2018) notes, the school board and the curricula should represent a “spirit of inclusivity, (inviting) people of faith and cultures different from their own to participate in selecting an acceptable curriculum that respects all beliefs and is scientifically accurate.”

The school board’s unwillingness to listen to the arguments of the parents is certainly a symptom of a bigger challenge, one that is currently wreaking havoc on the next generation. There are several significant causes and effects of the hypersexual culture that has been cultivated in the state of California, and these should give us cause for concern as citizens and parents of this great state:

  1. The current sex ed curriculum promotes promiscuity, not purity. The prevailing belief in most modern sex ed programs is that abstinence is not only unlikely, but that teens and young adults are virtually incapable of sexual purity. In other words, they are no better than animals driven by instinctive behavior. With this viewpoint, we are setting them up for mental failure before they even begin the race. As any good educator knows, low expectations lead to underperformance. If we tell kids they are “not capable” of sexual purity as children, will they then expect to be faithful to their long-term relationships in adulthood?
  2. Though sex education curricula proposed to have a positive impact on STDs, this idea hasn’t actually worked thus far. Since 1964, when the Values Clarification Movement first hijacked the minds and morals of educators, planting its permissive seeds in the fertile soil of America’s classroom, STD rates have gone up, not down. VCM prohibited any education from a sectarian viewpoint, promoting instead the religion of secular humanism and hedonism. What happened as a result? Let’s look at the data: According to the Center for Disease Control, 50% of all new STDs in our country today are contracted by the 15 to 25-year-old population. Every day in the United States, 8,000 teens and young adults are diagnosed with an STD – that’s 3 million new cases per year! Liberal sex ed programs, which abound all over the country, have not reduced the STD rates in the students they serve. Instead, the rates continue to climb.
  3. The current sex ed agenda is driven by a liberal powerhouse that promotes promiscuity, giving children as young as elementary school sexual ideas that they were most likely not even thinking of before they had these classes (again, visit the link for specific details on the “creative” ideas the curriculum provides for elementary school children). This agenda promotes promiscuity, pornography, and hypersexual lifestyles as normal choices open to all people, ideas that are at odds with the Christian worldview: Believers are expected to treat one another as brothers and sisters, in all purity (1 Timothy 5), to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), and even to avoid looking at someone we aren’t married to in a lustful way (Matthew 5:28). Clearly, the current SE agenda has fallen far outside of these boundaries.
  4. The current sex ed culture omits the truth about the dangers of mental and physical damage stemming from multiple sexual encounters. First, humans do not contract an STD from a mutually monogamous lifelong relationship. We contract an STD from using the body in a way it was not designed to be used, with multiple sexual partners. Additionally, the curriculum overlooks the damage done to oxytocin, the bonding hormone, as children move from one partner to another ad infinitum. As board-certified obstetricians Drs. Bush and McIlhaney have noted in their book Hooked: The Brain Science on How Casual Sex Affects Human Development (2019), overuse of this bonding hormone leads to an inability to bond over time. If we are not more proactive in protecting our children, the ongoing cultural atrophy of this neuropeptide may have tremendously negative impacts on future marriages and future families.
  5. Public schools should, by their very name, represent the public view. According to a 2018 study by Christianity Today, 80% of Americans believe in God, and though their beliefs differ denominationally, most agree that God has provided us with rules and guidelines for sexual behavior for our protection. Instead, in America, Christians are marginalized for their belief system, and Christian schools are denied financial support from our collective tax dollars even though the students within those schools are just as much citizens of our state as those in public schools (for a broad global and hopeful view, see my blog on lessons from the Netherlands and equal funding for all citizens). But I digress.
  6. The sex ed culture, as with the public school culture in general, promotes an excessively peer-driven environment where the voice of reason is decidedly and deliberately absent. The lack of parental governance in these systems, where students spend 8 hours a day with peers and then another 2 to 3 hours in sports or alone with homework, creates a peer-driven environment that limits maturation. As Nabor and Mate (2016) write, kids do not grow up to be responsible, respecting, mature citizens in the tutelage of peers. They need adult intervention in order to grow and develop in a healthy, responsible manner. A voice of reason must preside over the hallways, the classrooms, and the playgrounds of the public school.
  7. The casual sex culture has had dramatic lifestyle effects on the youngest generations, resulting in skyrocketing rates of cohabitation amongst Millennials and GenZs: 51% of Mills are currently cohabiting, living together in a sexual relationship. Marriage, if pursued at all, is being delayed longer and longer, decreasing the range of fertility for childbearing. Cohabitation is linked to a higher rate of domestic abuse, drug use, and a lower likelihood of long-term relational success. Are these the stats we desire for the next generation?
  8. Elementary school practices carry through to college: What we tolerate today, we will embrace tomorrow. Because we have tolerated excessive sexual impropriety at the elementary and secondary levels, it now runs to the extreme in local colleges and universities. My students tell me that one of the largest universities in our cities has an annual condom fashion show, unashamedly promoting the culture of promiscuity to our 18 to 22-year-old citizens. The sexual focus at this institution has not been cathartic in any sense of the imagination; in fact, Business Insider recently ranked this particular university as one of the top 25 most dangerous college campuses in the US. And don’t believe for a moment that the hypersexual culture on college campuses is any more appropriate simply because the kids are over 18. I have worked with college students for almost 20 years, and I can say with great certainty that they need ongoing adult intervention, coaching, guidance, and positive role models in order to succeed in life.
  9. The current sex ed culture is promoting an environment of hypocrisy. How can we as a culture insist on raking public officials through the coals for promiscuous behavior three decades earlier – when they were teens – and, at the same time, promote these same behaviors in school and mass media? The current curriculum is teaching the youngest age groups to draw from an arsenal of sexual fantasies provided by their educators. Like Hollywood, the public system has no anchor, nor moral mooring on which to build an argument, which is why it is so incredibly ineffective at moral boundary setting. Parents must be part of this process. In fact, an ongoing study at Harvard University called FINE (Family Involved Network of Educators) has shown that the singular most important factor of a student’s success from K to college is an involved parent! If the public education system truly desired to positively impact those soaring rates of STDs in our youngest populations, they would partner with parents, not cast them aside. This brings me to my final point.
  10. Parents have been disempowered in the realm of influence in government schools, which is a key reason for the growth of home education; homeschooling is currently one of the fastest growing segments of American academia (see Dr. Ray’s research at NHERI.org). Modern public schools have not listened to the needs, desires, and goals of parents. Instead, they have thrust Huxley’s Brave New World upon us without our consent. Parents need to be aware and involved, making wise educational decisions for the sake of the next generation. Let me put it this way: moms and dads, if teachers are not listening to you, and if the public sector is not representing the public it was commissioned to serve, don’t just sit back and let your kids be indoctrinated on your watch. You are the gatekeeper of your child’s heart. In the state of California, you have the legal right to choose a better system for your child. Because of the declining morality and the academic underperformance in the traditional school sector, we chose to homeschool our kids (see my blog on home education to learn about the socio-emotional benefits of homeschooling). Join the ranks of the 2.2 million children being educated at home across the US (and being actively recruited by Ivy League universities, btw), or attend a private school. There are over 300 private schools in San Diego county alone, serving over 20,000 students. Yes, it’s expensive. Find a way. We pay a price to live set apart.

Of course, the public school system is just one aspect of the social culture where reason and morality have pledged divorce from one another. But with over 51 million kids enrolled in the system across America, it’s a great starting point for discussion.

Our nation’s youth are sick, hurting, angry, confused. We have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation than we have ever seen before in the history of our culture. As parents and educators, we can’t look at the rates on self-injurious behavior and convince ourselves that kids are okay. They are not okay. The rampant STD rates are symptoms of a much deeper problem – one that can never be solved by a hypocrisy-laden, secular system that has absolved itself of any connection to moral absolutes.

As Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, the launching point of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Without a deference to a moral authority, our wisdom will be nothing more than a wilting, worldly shadow of the true original.

Parents can no longer afford to look the other way. It’s time to speak up, to stand up, for the sake of our children. The mental, physical, relational, and spiritual health of the next generation is at stake.