BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 517


                                                                    Page  1


          Date of Hearing: April 8, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION


                              Patrick O'Donnell, Chair


          AB  
                   517 (Gallagher) - As Introduced  February 23, 2015


          SUBJECT:  The California Comprehensive Sexual Health and  
          HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act: outside consultants: parental  
          consent.


          SUMMARY:  Prohibits the participation of a student in  
          comprehensive sexual health education or HIV/AIDS prevention  
          education which is taught by outside consultants or through  
          guest speakers at assemblies unless prior written permission of  
          the student's parent or guardian has been provided.   
          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires that a school district may provide comprehensive  
            sexual health education or HIV/AIDS prevention education, to  
            be taught by outside consultants or through guest speakers at  
            assemblies, only with written prior permission of the parent  
            or guardian of each student present.  



          2)Requires that school districts choosing to provide this  
            instruction through outside consultants or guest speakers  
            include in their notices to parents a request for written  
            permission for students to participate in that instruction and  
            notice that written permission is necessary to authorize  
            students' participation.










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          3)Requires that students not be subject to disciplinary action,  
            academic penalty, or other sanctions if the students' parents  
            do not provide permission for students to attend instruction  
            given by outside consultants or guest speakers at assemblies.



          4)Requires that an alternative educational activity be made  
            available to students who do not have permission to attend  
            instruction by outside consultants or guest speakers at  
            assemblies. 



          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Permits school districts to provide comprehensive sexual  
            health education, and places a number of requirements on  
            districts choosing to provide that instruction.  



          2)Requires school districts to provide HIV/AIDS prevention  
            education, and specifies what is to be included in that  
            instruction.



          3)States that a parent or guardian of a student has the right to  
            excuse their child from all or part of comprehensive sexual  
            health education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and related  
            assessments.



          4)Requires that school districts, at the beginning of each  
            school year, notify parents about instruction in comprehensive  
            sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education, as  
            well as research on student health behaviors which is planned  
            for the coming year. The notice must:








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             a)   Advise the parent or guardian that written and  
               audiovisual educational materials used in comprehensive  
               sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education  
               are available for inspection.
             b)   Advise the parent or guardian whether the comprehensive  
               sexual health education or HIV/AIDS prevention education  
               will be taught by school district personnel or by outside  
               consultants. 


             c)   Provide information on outside consultants and guest  
               speakers, including the date of the instruction, the name  
               of the organization or affiliation of each guest speaker.


             d)   Advise the parent or guardian that the parent or  
               guardian may request in writing that his or her child not  
               receive comprehensive sexual health education or HIV/AIDS  
               prevention education.





          1)Permits, for students in grades 7-12, the administration of  
            anonymous, voluntary, and confidential research and evaluation  
            tools to measure students' health behaviors and risks.   
            Requires that these tools be used only if a parent or guardian  
            is notified in writing that this tool is to be administered  
            and they are given the opportunity to review them and to  
            request in writing that his or her child not participate.



          2)Requires that students not be subject to disciplinary action,  
            academic penalty, or other sanctions if the students' parents  
            do not provide permission for students to attend this  
            instruction or participate in tests, questionnaires, or  
            surveys on student health behaviors and risks.








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          3)Requires that, while comprehensive this instruction is being  
            held or these tools are being administered, an alternative  
            educational activity be made available to students whose  
            parents or guardians have requested that they not participate.



          FISCAL EFFECT:  Legislative Counsel has keyed this bill as a  
          state mandated local program.


          COMMENTS:  


          Need for the bill.  The author states that "when sexual health  
          and HIV/AIDS prevention instruction is conducted by a school  
          teacher, the lessons are largely responsible and  
          age-appropriate" but that at times instruction provided by  
          outside consultants has been "controversial and inappropriate  
          for children."  The author points to several instances in which  
          outside consultants provided instruction to students which, in  
          the author's view, promoted sexual activity or a political  
          agenda.


          Outside consultants and guest speakers must follow requirements  
          as teachers. As noted above, the author's office indicates that  
          instruction provided by teachers is largely appropriate, but  
          that instruction provided by outside consultants is at times  
          "controversial and inappropriate."  


          Current law (Education Code Sec. 51933) requires outside  
          consultants to abide by the same instructional requirements as  
          teachers.  Among many requirements, this instruction must be age  
          appropriate, medically accurate and objective, teach respect for  
          committed relationships and marriage, encourage students to  
          speak with their parents or guardians about human sexuality, be  
          appropriate and accessible for use with students with  








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          disabilities, and be appropriate for students of all races,  
          genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural  
          backgrounds. 


          


          Opt-in excludes students whose families have no objection to the  
          instruction.  In approving prior legislation, most notably SB 71  
          (Kuehl, Chapter 650, Statutes of 2003), this Legislature chose  
          to require passive ("opt out") rather than active ("opt in")  
          parental consent.  This decision was made after reviewing data  
          that showed that very few parents object to their children  
          learning about sexual health, and that requiring active parental  
          consent would result in many students not receiving this  
          instruction when their parents had no objection to it. 





          A California study conducted by the RAND Corporation followed up  
          with parents who did not return permission forms and found that  
          87% had no objection to their children's participation,  
          demonstrating that a significant number of parents fail to  
          return school forms for reasons other than opposition to the  
          activity for which consent is sought.  Active parental consent  
          would mean that the vast majority of students who would miss  
          this instruction would have parents who had no objection to it.   
          Passive parental consent allows parents with objections to  
          exempt their children, while allowing those who do not object to  
          receive the instruction.





          According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35  
          states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on  
          behalf of their children, and three states require parental  
          consent before a child can receive instruction. 








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          CDE interpretation allows districts to adopt "opt in" policies  
          for sexual health instruction.  Contrary to significant  
          Legislative history on this issue, the CDE has advised school  
          districts that the law permits them to adopt an "opt in" policy  
          regarding comprehensive sexual health instruction.  The CDE  
          website states, "Districts shall not adopt an active consent or  
          "opt-in" policy for parental consent for required HIV/AIDS  
          prevention instruction. Districts may use either a passive  
          consent ("opt-out") or active consent ("opt-in") policy for  
          comprehensive sexual health education."


          AB 329 (Webber) of this Session would, among other provisions,  
          expressly prohibit active parental consent ("opt-in") policies  
          for HIV prevention education and comprehensive sexual health  
          education  


           Related legislation this session:  AB 329 (Webber) of this  
          Session would consolidate and revise the requirements for  
          comprehensive sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention  
          education, and would expressly prohibit active parental consent  
          ("opt-in") policies for HIV prevention education and  
          comprehensive sexual health education.  


           Prior legislation.  AB 1348 (Mansoor) of the 2011-12 Session  
          would have prohibited students from receiving sexual health  
          education or taking surveys about gender or sexual orientation  
          without parental consent.  That bill died in this Committee.


          AB 2086 (Huff) of the 2007-08 Session would have required that  
          parents be notified and be able to excuse their children from  
          discussions of sexual orientation which occur outside of  
          comprehensive sexual health education.  That bill died in this  
          Committee.


          AB 629 (Brownley), Chapter 602, Statutes of 2007, enacted the  








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          Sexual Health Education Accountability Act and requires sexual  
          health education programs to provide information that is  
          medically accurate, current, and objective, include content that  
          is age appropriate for its targeted population, be culturally  
          and linguistically appropriate for its targeted populations, and  
          provide information about the effectiveness and safety of at  
          least one or more drug or device approved by the federal Food  
          and Drug Administration for preventing pregnancy and for  
          reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. 


          AB 2891 (La Malfa) of the 2005-06 Session, would have required  
          parental permission before students could participate in tests,  
          questionnaires, surveys, or examinations containing any  
          questions regarding gender, or sexual orientation.  That bill  
          died in this Committee.


          AB 349 (Mountjoy) of the 2005-06 Session would have required  
          parental permission before students in grades 7-12 could receive  
          instruction or counseling in specified sexual health education  
          topics, and would have prohibited the discussion of those topics  
          in grades K-6.  That bill died in this Committee.


          SB 71 (Kuehl), Chapter 650, Statutes of 2003, established the  
          California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention  
          Education Act which consolidated various provisions relating to  
          the instruction in the public schools on AIDS prevention,  
          venereal disease and other sexually transmitted diseases, sex,  
          and abstinence from sexual activity, and the manner in which  
          parents or guardians may excuse their child from this  
          instruction.





          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:


          Support








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          California Catholic Conference


          California Nurses for Ethical Standards


          California Right to Life Committee


          Capitol Resource Institute


          Concerned Women of America of California


          Faith and Public Policy


          NOISE Coalition


          1 individual




          Opposition
          Equality California


          American Academy of Pediatrics, California


          American Civil Liberties Union of California


          California Communities United Institute


          California Medical Association








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          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter


          Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California


          California Association for Health, Physical Education,  
          Recreation and Dance


          1 individual




          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Tanya Lieberman/ED./(916) 319-2087