Once in a while, a bill comes along that has the potential to do enormous good for Utah citizens – but also leaves concerns about what it might lead to in the future. This is one of those bills.
Under current state law, Utah public schools offer what is known as Abstinence-Plus in their sex education classes – meaning that while contraceptives may be mentioned, discussion of them and their use is extremely limited. Abstinence is the only method teachers are allowed to promote.
During the 2012 Legislative Session, (now former) Representative Bill Wright (R) ran HB 363, more commonly referred to as the Anti-Sex Ed bill, which would have even further limited those discussions. Opponents of the bill immediately put out a call to action, arguing that because current sex ed classes are “opt-in” (parents must sign a release allowing their children to attend sex ed classes), HB 363 would strip parents of their right to choose. An online petition was launched against the bill, garnering over 65,000 signatures, and eventually Governor Herbert vetoed the legislation.
National scientific studies have shown that the more sex education children are exposed to during junior high and high school, the less likely they are to contract STD’s or become pregnant. Teachers, authority figures and parents all shoulder the responsibility to make sure young people are knowledgeable about the risks of teen sex. As a general rule, teachers and schools (who are trained for this) provide the factual side of the education, while parents should be teaching the morals and values of the family.
SB 39, Parental Responsibility For Sex Education from Senator Stuart Reid (Republican, Ogden), creates a new program within all public schools, wherein they must provide sex education training materials to parents.
We’re a fan of this legislation, and hope that it will assist more parents in becoming knowledgeable about how to talk to and protect their children. The training materials will be available physically in district offices, as well as online for parents, and the districts would be required to remind parents of their availability at least twice each school year.
Because this could help stem the concerning rise of STDs and teen pregnancies in Utah, we are going to give this bill a positive ranking. However, we also want to give a warning with it, that if this program catches on quickly and a majority of parents take advantage of the materials, it could be used (even if this is not the bill sponsor’s intent) in the future to once again attempt to eliminate sex education from schools.
To contact Sen. Reid, Click Here
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill