Monday, November 07, 2005

The 9th District Circus and the Elementary School Sex Survey!

The 9th District Circuit Court is the most frequently overturned circuit court in the nation. It is best known for declaring that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional and has a reputation of legislating from the bench. It is the largest of all the U.S. circuit courts covering nine states.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court dismissed the appeal filed by parents who had sued the Palmdale School District over a sex survey handed to students in the 1st, 3rd and 5th grades! The court, in upholding a lower court decision, ruled that "there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children.
Furthermore, parents have no fundamental right to influence their children on sexual matters "in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs," the court stated. The parents argued that they have the sole right "to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex." But the three-judge panel of the Circuit said, with Judge Stephen Reinhardt writing for the panel, "no such specific right can be found in the deep roots of the nation's history and tradition or implied in the concept of ordered liberty."

The survey, handed out to the pre-pubescent students in 2002, asked questions pertaining to sex, including the frequency of "having sex feelings in my body," "touching my private parts too much," and "washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside."

Palmdale School Superintendent Dr. Jack Gyves criticized the parents who took the case to court despite the school district's apology. "If they had just sought remedy without monetary damages I would give them more credit for being altruistic," Gyves said, "but when you put money into the equation it makes you wonder."

In terms of a possible precedent being established by the 9th Circuit Court decision, Gyves said he thinks the ruling addresses an important question of parental involvement. "I think the constitutionality, and I'm not an expert on constitutional law, but the constitutionality deals with the rights of parents to control curriculum for all children as opposed to adjudicating the appropriateness of curriculum for their own."

Parents should be involved in their children's education, Gyves said, but "the question is to what degree."