FREMONT -- A health textbook that talks about masturbation, foreplay and erotic touch, among other sexual education topics, will stay even though some parents are objecting to it on the grounds it's inappropriate for their ninth grade children.

The school board voted 3-2 on June 25 to purchase copies of "Your Health Today" for $204,600 after an extensive review process that included input from teachers and parents, said school board President Lara Calvert-York. It was chosen over six other books under consideration and the district has no plans to pull it from classrooms, she said.

But that approval process the book went through hasn't dulled the fury of parents who say the book's information on sex is way too advanced. A petition on the website Care2 has over 1,500 online signatures calling for the book's removal.

"There's a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history," said Asfia Ahmed, a parent and school district employee who said she may sue the district if it does not remove the book. "How does that relate to a 14-year-old kid? I don't see it at all."

Ahmed said the district is violating state education law mandating that instructional material be age appropriate, although she acknowledged the term age appropriate is open to interpretation.

Ahmed said she believes Fremont is "culturally a very conservative place" and that could account for a lot of the uproar over the book.

"But I am a very liberal person, and, in spite of that, I still find the book shocking," Ahmed said.


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Calvert-York said Fremont needs to teach its kids about sex because, like it or not, many students already are sexually active in ninth grade.

"We know this from student surveys done in our own district," Calvert-York said. "Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe."

Fremont parent Becky Bruno said she almost signed the petition asking the district to ban the book after getting emails from other parents before she had a look at it. But after she saw the book, she changed her mind.

"I was expecting to see explicit pictures, expecting controversial information, and I didn't find that in the book," Bruno said. "Yes, there is a section on sexual health, but the pictures are drawings of anatomy and would be the same thing they were exposed to in elementary and middle school. I didn't see anything that would be categorized as pornography, and that's what some of the parents are saying."

Teri Topham, whose daughter is going into ninth grade in Fremont and who teaches high school at a Fremont charter school, said she would throw the book out.

"I flipped through it and saw sections that mentioned bondage with ropes and handcuffs," Topham said. "Not only does it have material that is too explicit and inappropriate, it doesn't meet their need for their ages. I am astounded the health teachers and school board said, 'yes, this is the best book we could find.'"

Contact reporter Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.