Citizens for Parental Rights v. San Mateo County Bd. of Education

Citation51 Cal.App.3d 1,124 Cal.Rptr. 68
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Decision Date28 August 1975
Parties, 82 A.L.R.3d 544 CITIZENS FOR PARENTAL RIGHTS et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. SAN MATEO COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION et al., Defendants and Respondents. Civ. 33547.

Robert M. Damir, Zang, Friedman & Damir, P.C., San Francisco, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Keith C. Sorenson, Dist. Atty., by Jerome F. Coleman, Deputy Dist. Atty., Redwood City, for defendants-respondents.

Charles E. Rice, Notre Dame, Ind., for amicus curiae.

TAYLOR, Presiding Justice.

This is an appeal by Citizens for Parental Rights, et al. (an unincorporated association of parents and as individual parents, hereafter parents), from a judgment of dismissal entered to their seventh amended class action complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. The basic substantive question is whether the implementation of family life and sex education programs by the five respondent school districts in the jurisdiction of respondent, San Mateo County 1 violates the constitutional rights of the individual parents and their children under the First, Ninth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the parallel provisions of the California Constitution. 2 The case also presents a question of first impression as to the constitutionality of Education Code, sections 8506 and 8701. 3 We have concluded that the family life and sex education programs, adoption of the resource guides, and the statutes are constitutional for the reasons set forth below, and that therefore the judgment of dismissal based on the failure of the amended complaint to state a cause of action must be affirmed. 4

Before turning to the issues involved, a brief summary of the salient aspects of the program in issue is warranted.

The record indicates that in the San Bruno Park School District, one of the four phases of the program has to do with biological aspects of family living, as outlined in the Teachers' Resources Guide. Family life education is taught in various schools and in various grades but the program varies in each grade and school. Family life education at the time here pertinent was being taught to classes containing 3,106 students; 128 of these asked to be excluded.

The Millbrae School District had a sex education program for grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 during the 1970--1971 school year. Of the 1,550 students enrolled, 158 asked to be excluded.

The Hillsborough City School District taught family life education in grades 6, 7 and 8. Of the 181 sixth grade students enrolled in the program in 1969--1970, 20 asked for a course on conservation as an alternative to the unit on human reproduction.

The San Carlos School District has a biological unit taught as a supplement to the health and science course of study in grades 3 through 8. Of the 2,179 students enrolled in the district in grades 3 through 8 at the time here pertinent, 2,015 were in the program; 104 asked to be excluded.

In the South San Francisco Unified School District, family life education is taught from kindergarten through grade 12 with certain phases emphasized in certain grades. Of the 13,000 students taking the course in 1970--1971, 15 asked to be excluded.

In each district, the respective programs were taught by specially selected teachers who had received special training.

The exhibits filed by each of the districts consist of the Teachers' Program Guides. The guides are substantially similar in content but the level of the program, discussion tapes and reading materials increase in detail and complexity for the upper grades. Each guide is divided into three categories: 1) concepts and understandings; 2) learning experiences and examples of content; and 3) resource materials, including publications and films to be used. For example, the guide for grades 7 through 8 in one of the districts relates to problems solving techniques learned in the family that become part of one's personality. The learning experience and example of content suggested the inclusion of roleplaying family discussion to solve the problem of division of family chores and suggests a series of readings that include Neff, Ethics for Everyday Living; Seashore, How to Solve Your Problems; Randolph, Self-Enhancing Education; and Ginott, Between Parent and Child.

Under the concept of training and guidance of children, the program also suggests for discussion a debate on 'Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child' and 'Children Should be Seen and not Heard.' Also included are topics such as citizenship, financial responsibility, and the roles and responsibilities of children in the family. Among the suggested learning experiences and examples of content under financial responsibilities are a list of items to be included in a family budget and the role-playing of a situation in which the parents have to weigh alternatives in making the family income stretch to meet the needs of various family members. As to roles and responsibilities, it is suggested that students write a story: 'My parents expect too much of me' or 'My parents don't expect enough of me.' Among the concepts and understandings included is that most teenagers have problems with parents and most parents have problems with teenagers. The guide suggests that the absence of problems indicate that no growth is occurring past preadolescence.

On the unit relating to normal sexual development from infancy to adulthood, the guide indicates that the teachers should not indicate that certain kinds of a behavior are good or bad, right or wrong, but indicates simply various kinds of normal behavior patterns. As to an area entitled 'Unusual Behavior' which includes such topics as child molestation, exhibitionism, homosexuality and prostitution, the guide indicates that this unit is to be withheld until the background material written by the consultants is prepared. Under the concept of the family and home as the basic unit in American life, suggested for brainstorming, are topics such as what changes are taking place in family units, and include such readings as the History of the American Family by Kenney.

In the version used at all of the grade levels, the program clearly indicates that there are many kinds of families and that family composition may change from time to time. Among the suggested experiences are: a story describing the family and all of the significant changes that occurred in the family since the student was born; and a family scrapbook.

In the unit under economic factors, it is suggested that the students write a story describing how the work of the parents affects the family's ways of living and how the family decides how to share and expend its resources.

In the unit on human reproduction, the concepts and understandings to be reviewed are the male and female reproductive systems. As to sexual intercourse, there is a special note to the teachers indicating that it should be explained as a natural sequence of studying the reproductive process, and that the physiological facts should be dealt with within the framework of human love of husband and wife and the means of producing new life. 5 As to sexual behavior, the concepts and understandings cover a broad range of behavior and emphasize that curiosity and interest about one's own body are normal and acceptable, including infantile masturbation. The teacher is told to answer questions honestly and sincerely and not to interpret the material and when covering topics, such as masturbation, contraception, abortion and divorce, to indicate that there are many different points of view concerning them, that it is important that each person live within the framework of his religion or moral code of behavior. The section on learning experiences, expressly states: 'Masturbation: Excessive or prolonged masturbation is thought by psychologists to be a symptom of other emotional problems. Some religions regard masturbation (when it is consciously performed as a substitute for sexual intercourse) as an immoral act to be discouraged.

'The teacher should not say that it is 'bad' or 'good' or 'right' or 'wrong' but should give the above as facts.'

Under the concept heading of value of sex within the marriage are covered the legal consequences of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The learning experience section suggests a discussion of the legal, emotional, social and spiritual consequences of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. 6 In the concept entitled family planning, the outline lists the various factors relating to family planning, including degree of mutual adjustment, economic factors, religious viewpoints, effect on other children, and the number of children and capacity of the parents to care for them, the health of the father and mother and mutual agreement. Under means of planning for pregnancy, it is suggested that medical care is indicated if parents are unable to have children. The means of limiting family size include abstinence, rhythm and contraceptives. The remaining experiences section contains the following note to the teachers: 'If questions arise, pupils may be told that there are contraceptives, but that there are varying viewpoints concerning their use. Married couples should seek the advice of their physician and/or religious counselor.

'Teacher background information related to contraceptives is being prepared by the sub-committee from the Medical Society and the sub-committee on Moral & Ethical Values and will be distributed as soon as completed and approved by the Family Life Education Committee.'

In a unit entitled 'Self-Understanding--Emotional Development,' the learning goals are: to contribute to a student's developing concept of himself as a person; to stimulate growth and self-understanding and personal responsibilities; to increase competence in developing and...

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