Sexual education in schools has often been a hot button topic.
This has been the case again recently in California, where the state is in the process of overhauling their sex education curriculum to be more comprehensive and include topics such as gender identity, masturbation and healthy sex practices (including education for LGBTQ+ high school students).
Hundreds of people gathered in Sacramento to protest the changes to California's sex education curriculum and the requirements it would place on schools to educate students.
One mother even went so far as to say she would pull her children from school if the changes were implemented.
Patricia Reyes, of Anaheim Hills, told CBS News:
"It's just scary what they are going to be teaching. It's pornography."
"If this continues, I'm not sending them to school."
Many more conservative people insist that abstinence-only education (recently rebranded as "sexual risk avoidance") is sufficient to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STIs among teens.
Multiple studies have found this to not be the case, however.
One such study published in PLOS One in 2011 actually found that there is a positive correlation between abstinence-only education and increased teen pregnancy and birth rates.
"abstinence education in the U.S. does not cause abstinence behavior. To the contrary, teens in states that prescribe more abstinence education are actually more likely to become pregnant."
Turns out what you don't know can hurt you.
Many Californians do support the changes, though.
The communications director for Equality California, Samuel Garret-Pate, spoke with USA Today about the need for a more comprehensive education.
"Too often LGBTQ students in particular don't receive information during sex education that teaches them about healthy practices."
"There is nothing obscene about providing accurate and comprehensive information to students at an age-appropriate level about how to have safe sex."
Support for the changes on social media were mixed as well.
Many supported the move towards more comprehensive education.
@APWestRegion @chrishanrahan https://t.co/4JiwZj34On— Shaun Hayworth, a Garbage Can for Eggs (@Shaun Hayworth, a Garbage Can for Eggs)1557371630.0
@APWestRegion @AP I’m a California parent and I support this.— Adam McLane (@Adam McLane)1557367843.0
However, rather than actually learning about the changes, many people chose to simply condemn them.
Insinuating that schools were indoctrinating or brainwashing kids into being LGBTQ+ was an unfortunate theme.
@NRO @jackrcrowe The State set about to brainwashing 5 yr olds— Kev Lobe (@Kev Lobe)1557412412.0
@APWestRegion @AP It seems like schools are driving impressionable children towards being LGBT.— KhamadiPanther (@KhamadiPanther)1557431862.0
@APWestRegion @AP And the indoctrination continues......— Dang Yankee (@Dang Yankee)1557366034.0
Calling the guidelines "perverted" was also common.
@APWestRegion @AP This is not right and is perverted— Robby Rhodes (@Robby Rhodes)1557369529.0
Research has shown that a more comprehensive approach to sex education is the best way to prevent teen pregnancies and the spread of STIs which also leads to fewer abortions.
Despite documented facts, however, most "pro-life" conservatives are also anti comprehensive sex education. Conservatives tout the abstinence only option, well documented to lead to the maximum unwanted teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections/diseases.
These changes to the curriculum could go a long way toward informing students and helping them make safe choices when it comes to sex.
For some, that choice may end up being abstinence. Not everyone educated about sex is required to have it despite conservative perceptions.
And for others who do have sex, they deserve to have the knowledge to protect themselves and their partners.