Parents drop Clovis Unified sex education suit

The Fresno BeeFebruary 25, 2014 

Backers of a lawsuit contending Clovis Unified's ninth-grade sex education curriculum violated state law have dropped the case and declared victory, arguing the district's standards have changed significantly since the suit was filed in 2012.

ACLU of Northern California attorney Novella Coleman said books and materials that the plaintiffs alleged were biased are no longer part of Clovis Unified's sex education classes. Students now get the resources they need to protect their health, she added.

"Before the lawsuit, the district was not even giving students the bare minimum," she said. "Now, the students will have access to more comprehensive materials."

The ACLU of Northern California sued the district on behalf of parents and other groups who alleged the district used a sex education textbook that was not on the state's approved list. The groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and Gay-Straight Alliance Network, also argued district textbooks encouraged abstinence until marriage instead of providing more comprehensive lessons on birth control and healthy relationships.

District officials denied the suit's allegations from the beginning and argued state code gives districts leeway to tailor sex education classes to the needs of each community.

On Tuesday, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said the plaintiff's decision to drop the suit validates Clovis Unified's defense.

"The plaintiffs' allegation against the district's curriculum as 'abstinence only' was, and continues to be untrue; a fact made obvious through the deposition process of this case," she said in a statement.

Although they've dumped the suit, plaintiffs are still trying to recoup attorneys fees spent on the case.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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