California Healthy Youth Act

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The California Healthy Youth Act (formerly the "California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act") is "a 2016 law that requires all California schools to teach comprehensive sex education to their students at least once in middle school and once in high school."[1]

California Assembly Member Shirley Weber introduced the California Healthy Youth Act.

The California Healthy Youth Act Implementation Toolkit was a "collaboration of the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties."[2]


In 2010, ACLU of Northern California sex education policy director Phyllida Burlingame wrote an article detailing the background of the sex education legislation in California.[3]

Here is an excerpt:

"Many school districts simply won’t implement comprehensive sex education without being pressured by an organized group of parents, students and community members.
"A case in point: As recently as 2008 here in the progressive Bay Area, the Fremont school district was using an agency that received federal Community Based Abstinence Education funds. The curriculum criticized unmarried couples who “mate” and have children, provided inaccurate information about condom effectiveness, and included anti-abortion bias.
"The ACLU of Northern California and Bay Area Communities for Health Education (BACHE, a parent-founded organization that mobilizes other parents around sex education) began organizing local community members and launched an effort to replace the abstinence-only provider with comprehensive sex education. Using the law as leverage and relying on tools such as the CSBA model policy and the letter from the state Department of Education, Fremont parents, students, teachers and community members spoke at school board meetings, gained a majority on the district’s sex education oversight committee, and presented the district with a concrete list of problems and proposed solutions.
"The Fremont school district had long been in the sway of a small group of ardent abstinence-only supporters, but faced with overwhelming community opposition to the abstinence-only-until-marriage program and the reality that it was breaking the law, the district changed course and adopted comprehensive sex education in both middle and high schools. The ACLU and BACHE are now teaming up on a similar effort in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. Watch a video featuring Renee Walker, the parent founder of BACHE, talking about the value of community-based work.
"Organizing local communities is labor-intensive, but the rewards are great. School districts often hide behind perceived community opposition as a reason not to improve their sex education instruction. “This is a conservative community,” district officials will say. “People here won’t support teaching anything other than abstinence.” That argument is quickly deflated when they’re faced with a mobilized, representative cross-section of the community arguing persuasively about why they support comprehensive sex education and demanding accountability from their local schools.
"Organizing also increases the chances that change will be sustainable over time, since the community is both invested in the outcome and still on site to monitor the situation and make sure no back-sliding occurs. Also, once community members connect with each other in support of comprehensive sex education, they can also turn their energy in support of other important causes. The Fremont group, for example, after having achieved their sex education victory over a year ago, have now re-energized to push the district to recognize Harvey Milk Day, recently adopted by the state to honor the gay rights leader.
"The fact that community members in Fremont who organized in support of sex education are now fighting to recognize an LGBTQ civil rights day demonstrates a key truth about sex education: it stands at the intersection of many issues and can serve as a bridge between them.
"In its most narrow conception, sex education advocacy is about implementing programs that prevent teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. But when approached from a reproductive justice perspective that recognizes all the factors that can negatively affect young people’s health—including racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, immigration status, and language barriers—the goal of sex education advocacy expands from preventing unintended pregnancy and disease to promoting a holistic vision of well-being for young people. By connecting with parents’ deeply held desire for healthy children and healthy communities, this approach has the potential to bring together a much wider cross-section of the community, and to engage them on a wider range of issues.
"Making Connections Across Communities
"Back in 2002, when we were contemplating sex education legislation, the ACLU of Northern California and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California brought together educators, researchers, policy advocates and community-based organizations to discuss problems with the sex education then being taught in schools, and to strategize policy solutions.
"Now called the California Sex Education Roundtable, and additionally convened by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, this group promotes networking, cross-fertilization of ideas, and collaborative action. For example, the Public Health Institute, a research organization, conducted a survey of California parents’ support for comprehensive sex education, the results of which were widely used by other Roundtable members in their local efforts. California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice have created toolkits for working on sex education with the Latina/o and Asian communities, respectively, and have brought the voices of communities of color into statewide administrative and legislative advocacy efforts.
"By developing a network that informs work at both the state and local levels and includes the perspectives of members from a range of disciplines and contexts, the Sex Education Roundtable has played a key role in furthering sex education implementation in California.

External links