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California overhauls sex education guidance for teachers

California has overhauled its sex education guidance for public school teachers, encouraging them to talk about gender identity with kindergartners and give advice to LGBT teenagers for navigating relationships and having safe sex.

LGBT advocates praised the new recommendations for giving attention to a community that is often left out of sex education policies. But some parents and conservative groups assailed the more than 700-page document as an assault on parental rights, arguing it exposes children to ideas about sexuality and gender that should be taught at home.

The guidance approved Wednesday by the California State Board of Education does not require educators to teach anything. It is designed as a guide for teachers to meet state standards on health education, such as nutrition, physical activity and combating alcohol and drug abuse.

But it’s the parts about sex that got the most attention during a public hearing on Wednesday. The framework tells teachers that students in kindergarten can identify as transgender and offers tips for how to talk about that, adding “the goal is not to cause confusion about the gender of the child but to develop an awareness that other expressions exist.”

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