Southern California teacher placed on leave after video clip of anatomy lesson leaked

Tribune Content Agency

A Southern California high school teacher was placed on administrative leave amid backlash from parents after a clip of a sexually explicit lesson in her anatomy and physiology class at El Dorado High School was shared online, a spokesperson for Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District said.

The lesson from a physiology and AP environmental science teacher, identified by a district spokesperson as Judy Rehburg, explained the role of the prostate, specifically as it relates to sexual pleasure. A clip of the lesson, which was secretly recorded and blasted on social media, also showed Rehburg discussing sex toys and how they’re sold at general retailers.

A syllabus for an anatomy and physiology class on Rehburg’s school website says it could include a unit covering the reproductive system and pregnancy. The syllabus is not dated, and it’s unclear if it is the most current representation of her lesson plans. The California Board of Education approved statewide comprehensive sex education laws to include inclusivity for health education under the California Healthy Youth Act in 2016. The law was modified in 2019, adding education for LGBTQ+ sexual health.

Parents filed an official complaint with PYLUSD, which can be done through its website, and Rehburg was placed on administrative leave pending results from the district’s investigation, said Alyssa Griffiths, the PYLUSD communications director.

“District employees are trusted to exercise professional judgment when deciding whether or not a particular issue is suitable for study or discussion,” Griffiths said. “In the classroom, employees act on behalf of the district and are expected to follow the adopted curriculum, and they should not advocate personal opinions or viewpoints.”

“With that being said, PYLUSD and EDHS will continue to work diligently to ensure that all students are afforded the opportunity to learn in a safe and respectful environment,” said Griffiths.

The Association of Placentia-Linda Educators, which represents Rehburg, declined to comment, and Rehburg could not be immediately reached. Board members and El Dorado High Principal Joey Davis shared the district’s statement.

In the wake of the district’s action, social media pages and hashtags have popped up in support of the teacher, including the Instagram account @freejudy which said the clip of the lesson was taken out of context. Rehburg, the account said, was “simply answering students’ questions anatomically” submitted anonymously through a Google form.

The account says it’s sharing details from an unnamed student who was in the class during the lesson. The account said parents are required to sign a syllabus at the beginning of the year that outlines the content discussed in the class.

“This is everybody’s favorite teacher,” said Molly Kurzbard, a parent of an El Dorado High student. “She’s kind. She loves nature, plants, birds and all biology.”

Kurzbard’s daughter, she said, learned similar material in Rehburg’s class years ago.

During a PYUSD board meeting Tuesday evening, multiple parents spoke out during the public comment period in support of Rehburg.

A few, however, said they disapproved of her teaching and asked for her to be dismissed from the school.

The clip has also garnered negative reactions from people on social media who say this lesson was “illegal” and an example of “grooming.” It was shared on a YouTube channel that purports to be “dedicated to documenting everything that goes on within PYLUSD” as well as by people on social media who appear not to have a connection with the district.

The PYLUSD board has become known for taking action against what it views as progressive integration in the classroom. Last year, after a fiery debate by parents, the board banned the teaching of “critical race theory” from the classroom, the first district in Orange County to do so. As a result, Cal State Fullerton pulled its student teachers from the district.

But PYLUSD isn’t the only school district grappling with culture war debates, from what’s being taught in the classroom to book bans and more, in Southern California.

A Temecula Valley High School drama teacher was recently put on leave and is the subject of a district investigation after a mother and pastor complained to the school board, accusing him of asking students to read a sexually explicit play.

Earlier this year, students in the Orange Unified School District briefly lost access to an online library app after parents lamented about a couple of books, one of them an LGBTQ+ story with descriptions of sex and explicit language meant for older teens.

And at an elementary school in Glendale, ongoing protests have ensued as parents and LGBTQ+ activists clash over pride education in the classroom. A rainbow Pride flag was burned, and fights have broken out on school grounds.