Sex Ed
Students must be provided with information on all contraceptive methods approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, a judge has ruled. REUTERS/Mike Segar

School districts that exclusively teach that sexual abstinence is the only safe way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are breaking the law, a California judge has ruled.

State law demands that schools provide medically accurate information about other methods of contraception, including all contraceptives approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, ruled Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black.

Students must be provided with the "knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and STDs," Black said.

"Given the high social cost of teen pregnancy and similar toll on society of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the rights vindicated by this suit, access to medically, and socially appropriate sexual education, is an important public right," Judge Black wrote. He added that the school district promoted "medically inaccurate information."

Black made his ruling in answer to a lawsuit filed against the Clovis school district by a group of parents who argued that sex-ed classes focused on abstinence and made little or no mention of contraceptives or argued that they were ineffective, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. One video, referred to in Black's ruling, compared a woman who was not a virgin to a dirty shoe.

Black's decision only applies to the 40,000-student Clovis Unified School District, but it's the first time California's 11-year -old sex-ed law has been interpreted in court, and it will alert schools that an abstinence-only focus likely won't withstand a court challenge.