A pro-life group says UCLA officials reprimanded two incoming students for refusing to participate in what they said was a graphic sex education class that was a part of UCLA’s freshman orientation.
Two Catholic students, twins Bella and Angelica Ayala, 18, say they were reprimanded by UCLA employees for respectfully refusing to be part of a graphic sex ed presentation tacked on to the university sexual harassment session at their freshmen orientation. They also say literature they wanted to distribute that promoted abstinence that the students offered to fellow students beforehand was confiscated.
The Ayalas say they were given mixed messages by academic advisers prior to the presentation. Angelica was told she could leave for the sex ed portion,
but after she walked out, she was reprimanded and told that she must make the session up. According to university requirements, refusing to do so would place an academic hold on her records, she said.
“My sister actually contacted the orientation program beforehand to request that we be exempt from attending this part of orientation, but was given an ambiguous answer,” said Bella Ayala.
About a week after she called, a mass email from the New Student & Transition Programs was sent out which cited UC policy codes and state and federal laws that mandated the presentation.
Ayala continued: “Thus, when the presentation took place, my sister and I got permission from our counselors to leave the auditorium during the sex ed part. However, the rest of the students were never told that they had that option and one of my friends (whom I was not able to inform ahead of time) related the subject of this session, entitled ‘Socially Speaking: Life Outside the Classroom’: namely how to properly wear a condom and convince your partner to use a condom before having sex.”
“My sister and I also attempted to take advantage of this occasion to distribute literature that dealt with the risks of having sex outside of marriage with multiple partners, such as STDs. Before the presentation began, as students were still going in and out, we passed out the materials. Students were already reading the literature but a counselor demanded that they pass back the materials. Another counselor snapped at us, ‘This is not the message we want to communicate.’ My counselor later told me that she knew I was responsible for passing out the literature and that this was not allowed because the talk was a ‘private event’ and I need to ask permission from the Dean’s Office before distributing anything,” Ayala continued.
She concluded: “My counselor also told me that she understood that I had ‘religious beliefs’ but that ‘If someone came to [me] for help [I] shouldn’t say ‘what you were doing wasn’t right’ and turn them away.’ The full implications of this statement hit me later on: she was assuming that I would refuse to help someone who had been sexually assaulted just because they had opened themselves to risk. How poorly she understood my views! My involvement in the pro-life movement has been marked by efforts to embrace women with unplanned pregnancies — regardless of how they became pregnant.”
While the session’s sexual harassment segment is mandatory under state law, there is no legal requirement that UCLA also promote reckless sexual behavior, or teach sex technique, says Kristina Garza, Director of Campus Outreach for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a pro-life group the students volunteer for in the past. The group says the university had no right to confiscate student possessions either, which they did when taking all of the Ayalas’ pamphlets from their peers.
Garza said: “UCLA’s pretension is outrageous. First, they assault students with a graphic presentation about immoral sexual behaviors, veiling it with California’s education codes that are meant to protect people from this sort of sexual violence. Then, they infringe on students’ right to free expression by taking away informational literature that conflicted with their narrow worldview. So much for the free marketplace of ideas. We are committed to supporting the Ayalas throughout their education at this public institution.”
The Ayalas are currently consulting with legal counsel about their options.