When 18-year-old twins Bella and Angelica Ayala found out that the sexual harassment session in their freshman orientation program included a graphic sex-ed presentation, they decided to opt out. The pro-life Catholic students respectfully voiced their desire to not partake in the program prior to its start.
Bella told the pro-life group Survivors, “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.” A week after Angelica called the orientation program, a mass e-mail was sent out from the New Student & Transition Programs citing UCLA’s policy codes and federal/state laws saying the presentation was mandated. Regardless, the Ayalas later received permission from their counselors to leave the program. The option to not partake in the sex-ed part of the program was not given to any other students.
Angelica was told she wouldn’t have to be present during the sex ed portion, but after she walked out, she was later reprimanded and told she’d have to make up the session. If she refused to make up the session, she was informed that the university would put a hold on her academic records.
Before the session, the twins distributed literature to their peers that discussed STDs and risks of having sex prior to marriage. A counselor seeing the students reading the literature said, “This is not the message we want to communicate.” The counselor told Angelica she knew she was responsible for passing out the literature and it wasn’t allowed because the talk was a private event and she’d need permission from the dean’s office to hand out information. A counselor took the pamphlets from the students by demanding they pass back the materials.
In addition to confiscating the pamphlets, the counselor told Angelica that she understood she had “religious beliefs,” but if someone came to her for help, she shouldn’t turn that person away and tell him or her that what he or she was doing was wrong. Angelica believes that the counselor was assuming that Angelica would refuse to help someone who had been sexually assaulted just because she had opened herself to risk. That assumption is far from Angelica’s desire to lovingly embrace students regardless of the situations they find themselves in.
Kristina Garza, Director of Campus Outreach for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, spoke about the situation, saying, “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 getting legal counsel in regards to their options.
What do you think of their story? Should college students be allowed to opt out of sex-ed classes they find offensive or graphic? Is it right that the counselor took the pamphlets from students who willingly decided to accept and read them? Were the Ayalas being mistreated or judged harshly because of their views on sex? Was it wrong of the counselor to assume that Angelica’s motives were based on religion when her pamphlets focused on health risks?
There may be no clear-cut answers on this case as of yet. Regardless of the outcome, I applaud the Ayalas for boldly standing up for their beliefs.