On March 28, Indian and Pakistani parents and community members gathered at a school board meeting in Fremont, California, to demand comprehensive science-based sexual health education in local schools. The school board in the 51 percent Asian American city was set to review a board policy that would provide instruction on puberty, anatomy, boundaries, and consent beginning in elementary school.
“My children deserve a modern curriculum about sex that is inclusive rather than divisive, facilitated by professionals and delivered by teachers” said Fremont parent Anjali Rao. “Our schools should be preparing students for the world they live in. This means teaching anatomy, biology, and social issues from an early age.”
“Children need to learn about consent” — Alka Shingwekar
“Children need to learn about consent,” said parent Alka Shingwekar. “Anything short of an explicit ‘yes’ constitutes assault. The media sends mixed messages on what constitutes consent, how our bodies are viewed. Our children need scientific education from trained professionals to understand consent and boundaries.”
“Our kids deserve a curriculum that teaches students about LGBTQ issues,” said Shailaja Dixit. “Too many children face bullying because of who they are. Providing curriculum that includes all our children will help prevent attacks on children who are, or are perceived to be, LGBTQ.”
“Our kids deserve a curriculum that teaches students about LGBTQ issues”– Shailaja Dixit
“My parents grew up in India, and it wasn’t always easy for them to talk about sex with their American son,” said former Fremont student Anirvan Chatterjee. “Having sex health education starting in elementary school made those conversations easier for families like mine.”
“Our family believes in science,” said Monica Melville. “That’s why I spoke to the school board in support of comprehensive, science-based sex education, determined by professionals. I raised my sons to be able to handle complicated material.”
“Parents who oppose sex ed say that they are being left out of the process of educating their child,” said Neba Zaidi. “However, parents may lack the initiative, openness, and knowledge needed for these conversations. Good sex ed gives students the tools to talk with their parents about these things, and also teaches them to make healthy and safe choices for themselves.”
“Good sex ed gives students the tools to talk with their parents” — Neba Zaidi
“I’ve lived in Fremont for my entire life, and I’ve seen the damage that the lack of comprehensive sex ed can do in my school and in my community”, said 16-year-old Ananya Hindocha. “When young people don’t understand the idea of rape and consent, it opens the doors for physical assault. Teaching children about consent and identity at a young age will foster safe learning spaces for children.”
Indian and Pakistani community members plan to return to the school board on April 18, when the board will be voting on the issue.