Little Suzy won't be learning about kinky sex after all. Not in her sixth-grade class, anyway. On the playground, maybe, but not from Mrs. McGillicuddy.
Relax, everybody: Your 12-year-old will not be subjected to white-board diagrams of gymnastic intimacy, but we can thank Shannon Grove for planting the visual. The state senator from Bakersfield stirred up a hornet's nest Tuesday when she posted a photo on her Facebook page of a book's table of contents — a rather salacious table of contents, to many sensibilities.
Chapters and sub-chapters include "Bondage / Restraint," "Kinky Sex," "Body Fluid or Blood Play" and "Yes, No, Maybe So: A What-You-Want-and-How-You-Want-It Sex Checklist."
Grove's caption: "Our new California education curriculum for 6th graders. So sad what the Democrats are doing to this state and our children."
Except the state's sex-ed curriculum contains no such material. Fake news.
The responses to Grove's post included outrage, horror and calls for action.
"They’re sexualizing our children, then promising them contraceptives, abortions, and treatments for any STDs they may contract," wrote one commenter. "It’s a business cycle."
Some called for political activism: "This Democrat state needs a federal Trump Take Over. Come on parents ... time to protest and go on strike against this crap."
Others saw evidence that depraved curriculum was already oozing into California classrooms: "I believe this is witchcraft! ... Some schools in Kern County are rolling this curriculum out a little slower but it will include ALL schools, K-12."
Um ... no it won't.
The page pictured in Grove's post is from "S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties" by Heather Corinna.
It is not part of California's sixth-grade sex education curriculum, or any state curriculum.
In May 2019, following the second scheduled public comment period prior to finalization of the state Department of Education's Health Education Framework, six books were removed from a lengthy, proposed "for additional reading" list, and Corinna's book was one of them.
Eight months ago — not, as some may have concluded, just last week.
"Yes, that (photo posted by Grove) is from the TOC (table of contents) of one of my books, and no, it is not the CA curriculum, nor any part of it," Corinna wrote in an email response to my question. "It — and some other books across the age spectrum, including really vital books —" was pulled due to what Corinna called the "manufactured outrage like you’re seeing" now from Grove.
The other books pulled from the proposed supplementary reading list included the acclaimed "Changing You!: A Guide to Body Changes and Sexuality," by Dr. Gail Saltz, a professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital, as well as the lighter but potentially more challenging "My Princess Boy," by Cheryl Kilodavis.
Grove, involved in Tuesday's marathon Board of Supervisors meeting with state energy officials, was not available for comment, but she indicated via text that she supported SB 673, authored by state Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, which comes before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. SB 673 calls for "transparency, full disclosure, and parental choice in sex education," according to Morrell's website. "Families should make these decisions, not the government," Morrell argues.
So, how does a book axed eight months ago from a supplementary "suggested reading list" via that most venerated of democratic processes, the public hearing (or, in this case, the public comment window), end up represented as fait accompli, front-line curriculum by the leader of the state senate's Republican caucus?
Likely because of an authoritative-sounding article posted Monday on National File, a website that describes itself as "America's Newest Conservative News Source" and "a bold new media project focused on ... the New Right." Its team includes "distinguished journalists" with experience at Breitbart, The Daily Caller and other ultraconservative sites (including something called One Angry Gamer).
National File in turn picked up the story from a Facebook group called Informed Parents of Washington. Sponsors of that conservative Pacific Northwest social media group posted about California's allegedly explicit sex education curriculum on Jan. 10; on Tuesday they were busying themselves with a different sort of outrage: Facebook's fact-checkers (yes, they apparently exist!) had removed the post, labeling it "False Information."
"False: The book cited in the story has been banned and (was) never used in California public schools," the explanatory message read.
But the story was remained posted Tuesday on nationalfile.com alongside headlines such as "ADL Adds ‘Boogaloo’ to Online Extremist Lexicon," which references the Anti-Defamation League's concerns about "an upcoming civil war in America" between what National File calls "left-anarchists" and "dissident right-wing" fighters.
National File is already on the radar of the nation's independent fact-checking organizations. Snopes researched a National File story from October that claimed Nancy Pelosi’s son, Paul Pelosi Jr., “was an executive of a gas industry company that did business in Ukraine.” Snopes rated it unequivocally "false."
So, if the Department of Education's Health Education Framework, which is still being refined, does not include books explaining the nuances of "sex toys" and "cybersex," what's in it?
Students in fifth grade will learn about growth, development and sexual health; fourth- and sixth-graders will learn about injury prevention and safety, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; and sixth graders will learn about mental, emotional and social health.
If Tuesday's social media tempest is any indication, the best thing kids can do for their mental, emotional and social health is stay off Facebook. The adults have ruined it.