CALEXICO – By 4:45 p.m. Thursday, the Calexico school board room had filled with pro-life and culture-of-life supporters ready to protest the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Planned Parenthood and Calexico Unified School District for the 5:00 p.m. school board regular meeting.
The MOU would create a collaboration between Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) and Calexico Unified School District to share a full commitment on providing access to medical reproductive health education and skill building to aid in decision making and to promote increased access to family planning services.
The Board had the item listed under a consent agenda where the MOU and 31 other issues would be passed by a single vote.
Upon taking their seats, President of the Board, Leticia Vizcarra, immediately removed the MOU. After a few board procedures, they convened for an hour of closed session business, then reemerged.
Despite the MOU’s removal, those opposing the collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the school remained. Supporters of Planned Parenthood arrived at 6:00 p.m. including Juanita Salas, Community & Government Relations Manager of Planned Parenthood, and several young children dressed in the matching blue shirts with the Planned Parenthood logo.
Several speakers from each side spoke their positions. Marty Ellett from Real Hope Center, John Hawk of the Holtville School Board, Danny Ramirez, and Enrique Cervantes, past president of Calexico Teachers Association were some of those that spoke against the MOU.
Hawk said the board should never have placed the item in the consent agenda for something as serious as sexual education.
“Consent items are for routine items and anything to do with Planned Parenthood is not routine. They are the largest provider of abortion in our nation; this should have a public hearing. When Planned Parenthood talks about family planning, they mean deleting the family,” Hawk said.
Ellett praised the board for removing the MOU from the board agenda, but asked if they planned on having a certificated teacher teach the material as they said when they voted to remove the MOU from the agenda. Ellett also asked, “Who would train the teacher, whose curriculum would they use? Would they still use Planned Parenthood’s trained teachers and curriculum?” Ellett suggested having an open session where views and ideas have more time to be expressed than just in the board meeting.
Promoting the MOU, Salas said Planned Parenthood merely wanted to have trained students conduct peer-to-peer talks around campus and for those interested, a trained adult would give an hour talk on family planning, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases.
Salas mentioned that Planned Parenthood was part of the California Wellness project that identified and used youth leaders and youth advocates.
One of the student peers, Alan Lopez, said that Planned Parenthood offers abortion but does not promote abortions. He accused the pro-life side of actually advancing abortions by keeping students ignorant of preventative measures and thus creating more pregnancies that end in abortion.
Danny Ramirez, opposing the MOU, went line by line over the MOU with the board, criticizing the wording that he speculated was written by Planned Parenthood lawyers in Washington D.C. One of the words he pointed out as wrong was calling the students of Calexico, “clients” of Planned Parenthood.
President Leticia Vizcarra said during break that the MOU was off the agenda indefinitely.