The Murrieta Valley Unified School District board of trustees denied a request made by a group of community activists and parents to become a sanctuary district during its Nov. 14 meeting.
The board voted unanimously to deny the request which brought out hundreds of parents, supporters and religious leaders – all who spoke during the public hearing in support of the issue.
Should it have been approved by the district, the sanctuary school district status would have allowed for the protection of parental rights to make decisions for their children regarding sexual education, whether or not to vaccinate children and keeping students from leaving school for undisclosed doctor appointments without a parent’s knowledge, something that is protected under the California Healthy Youth Act, or CHYA.
Murrieta Valley Unified School District representative Monica Guiterrez told Valley News there is no state mandated curriculum for comprehensive sexual health education that has to be approved by school districts.
There is however, she said, a set criteria mandating what the instruction, which is taught once in high school and once in middle school, must include. That criteria includes integrated, medically accurate, comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention to include information on safety and effectiveness of contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted diseases, gender identity, sexual orientation and healthy relationships.
“As such, our district developed a balanced approach to implement the legal requirements of comprehensive sex education that also reflects the values of our community,” Guiterrez said.
The group leading the charge to make MVUSD a sanctuary district takes issue with items required under CHYA including gender identity, sexual orientation and a student’s right to leave school campuses for certain medical appointments without a parent’s knowledge, citing religious and personal beliefs.
Appointments can include those related to mental health care, sexually transmitted infection testing, drug treatment, sexual assault treatment, pregnancy, contraception and abortion.
Hundreds of parents, some with their children at their side, attended the meeting in support of the request, along with medical professionals and religious leaders.
One of those religious leaders, the Rev. Tim Thompson with 412 Church in Murrieta is leading the charge for the sanctuary district status. In an interview with Valley News before the meeting, Thompson said that if cities can be sanctuary cities there is no reason why a school district can’t do the same, something he brought up during the MVUSD public hearing.
During the public hearing, Thompson said that the group was asking for the district to make Murrieta the first sanctuary city in California for parental rights.
“We also want students to be inclusive, we want the same thing,” he said. “We know the board’s hands are tied with the law but let’s untie your hands by declaring Murrieta a sanctuary city to protect our teachers, students and parents.
“There is no diversity of thought and teaching the gender spectrum violates teachers’ and students’ and parents’ religious rights. This is cultural Marxism,” Thompson said.
Only one person spoke up against the request. Stephanie Holloway, a teacher at a neighboring school district, said she believed that as a teacher and a parent, it was important for her to learn about others.
“Students have the right to learn too, and there are many different perspectives and students have a right to learn in an inclusive environment,” she said. “LGBTQ students have a right to be safe in their classrooms. I do hope you will see the views here do not represent the entire community.”
In the end, the MVUSD board of trustees unanimously denied the request with no comment on the matter.
Kim Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.