Flagged Bill – HB 215 – Reproductive Health Education and Services Amendments – Rep. Brian King

Representative Brian King (Democrat – Salt Lake City)

Last year, Representative Brian King (Democrat – Salt Lake City) ran HB 246 – Reproductive Health Amendments, legislation that took a realistic look at human sexuality that gave young adults the tools they need to make good, comprehensive, decisions about themselves, their sexual health, and their psychological health. The legislation did not disregard abstinence as an option and would emphasize that abstinence is the only proven way to always prevent STI transmission and pregnancy.

[pullquote]Despite being less effective than other methods, there are many conservative groups who disregard the evidence in favor of a strict abstinence-only policy. Yes, the ostrich patrol just can’t seem to accept that treating teenagers like people might actually produce better results.[/pullquote]But the legislation was also realistic. As we pointed out last year abstinence-only programs have been shown to be no more effective at increasing the age of first sexual contact, decreasing the number of sexual partners a teen may have, preventing pregnancy, or the number of reported STD diagnoses when compared to other groups. However, youth who receive abstinence-oriented educations are more likely to not know the role of contraception (particularly condoms) in the prevention of spreading disease. Furthermore, a majority of Utahns do not agree with this method of sex education being taught to their child.

King’s legislation in 2016, in short, realizes that hormone crazed teens don’t make smart decisions and that equipping them with the knowledge necessary to avoid pregnancy and STI transmission works far better than pretending there isn’t a problem.

Well, Representative King is back at it again with HB 215 – Reproductive Health Education and Services Amendments. This year’s legislation is quite similar to 2016’s, however, King has opted to remove language related to Medicaid waivers for family planning services – instead opting to place it into a separate bill, HB 57 – Reproductive Health and Medicaid Amendments.

As in last year’s bill, HB 215 places an emphasis on providing evidence-based, age appropriate, information “shown to be effective in changing behaviors that contribute to pregnancy at a young age and sexually transmitted diseases and infections, including: sexual abstinence and delaying sexual initiation, reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse, reducing the number of sexual partners, and increasing the use of condoms and other contraceptives.”

Another key component of HB 215 is the importance it places on how to recognize, avoid, and respond safely to situations where sexual or physical violence may occur – an all too important and sad reality in our modern world.

One slight tweak to the bill when compared to last year is that King would specifically make the sexual education curriculum available to parents so that they not only know what is contained in the various courses, but can also engage in conversations about it if they so choose. Though this was implied in 2016’s legislation, the addition may ease some concerns.

It should come as no surprise that King has already received pushback on the legislation. Despite being less effective than other methods, there are many conservative groups who disregard the evidence in favor of a strict abstinence-only policy. Yes, the ostrich patrol just can’t seem to accept that treating teenagers like people might actually produce better results.

No, King is not doing away with abstinence education. No, King is not telling teenagers to give into their hormones. No, King is not shutting parents out of the process or forcing state approved sin education upon innocent youth. What King is trying to achieve with HB 215 is to provide a comprehensive, realistic, age-appropriate education about maturation and sexual health that is specifically designed to reduce the spread of STI’s, reduce pregnancies, and delay sexual activities until a person reaches a more responsible age.

Last year King’s bill died in the Education Committee along partisan lines. Perhaps this year King will make some progress on this important issue.

To contact Representative King, click here or call 801-560-0769

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 4
Need for Legislation 5
Lemon Score 0
Overall Grade A

6 Replies to “Flagged Bill – HB 215 – Reproductive Health Education and Services Amendments – Rep. Brian King

  1. Before legislators accept the misinformation perpetuated in HB 215, a few facts may be helpful. Let’s look at a few assertions from the article:

    “…abstinence-only programs have been shown to be no more effective at increasing the age of first sexual contact, decreasing the number of sexual partners a teen may have, preventing pregnancy, or the number of reported STD diagnoses when compared to other groups. However, youth who receive abstinence-oriented educations are more likely to not know the role of contraception (particularly condoms) in the prevention of spreading disease.”

    But perhaps it may be important to exam the 23 peer- reviewed studies that show teens in a Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) abstinence programs are:
    • More likely to delay sexual debut
    • Have less sexual partners
    • No less likely to use a condom if the do become sexually active.

    See a compendium of studies here:
    http://weascend.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SRA-Works-web.pdf

    Continuing…
    “King’s legislation in 2016, in short, realizes that hormone crazed teens don’t make smart decisions and that equipping them with the knowledge necessary to avoid pregnancy and STI transmission works far better than pretending there isn’t a problem.”
    However, those “hormone crazed teens” are having less sex now than 25 years ago- the CDC reports a 28% decrease in teen sex. Our programs should be supporting this positive trend vs. focusing on how to have sex with a condom. Teens learn about contraception in SRA abstinence classes but always in the context that avoiding sex is the only 100% way to avoid pregnancy and disease.

    CDC (2016) Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015. Atlanta: AuthorPaquette, D, Cai, W. (2015, July 22). Why American Teenagers are Having Much Less Sex. Washington Post. Accessed January 30, 2016.
    What is clear is that HB215 creates a false narrative about what SRA abstinence education teaches. It perpetuates a myth about these programs while hiding the often explicit materials and demonstrations given in so-called “comprehensive” sex ed classes. The very kind of explicit information that parents are rejecting all over the country. Further more, the latest report from the Dept. of Health and Humans Services shows that after spending nearly a billion dollars on such programs in the Obama administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs, 80% of teens fared no better or worse than those not receiving comprehensive programs. In fact, three programs funded at 20 million dollars showed an increase in sex, pregnancy and oral sex among teens.
    Office of Adolescent Health (2016) Summary of findings from the TPP program Grantees (FY2010-2014). Washington, DC: HHS (2016). Special issue of American Journal of Public Health explores impacts of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. American Journal of Public Health: September 2016. 106 (S1):S9-S15.

    The evidence-based, medically accurate and age appropriate information that is given to students in sexual risk avoidance abstinence classes give teens the opportunity to achieve optimal health now and in the future. HB215 should be soundly defeated.

    1. Thank you, Mary Anne Mosack, for presenting facts which help parents understand the truth about “Comprehensive Sex Ed.” It is only comprehensive in it’s teaching of explicit sexuality, not in it’s presentation of facts which would keep children safe. H.B. 215 specifically removes lines of Utah code which protect children from sexual abuse, pornographic materials, and explicit sexuality instruction. It would be nice to see some of the organizations fighting porn in our state go after CSE.

    2. Actually, current state law provides for NO mention of birth control, and abstinence until marriage. Questions regarding safe sex, or pregnancy issues, are to be avoided, rather than empowering our youth with correct factual information and decision-making skills. There is no talk of how to stay safe sexually, nor avoid abuse or rape. Our children are taught shame and judgment for anything beyond abstinence and it’s planting seeds of depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and poor marital and sexual satisfaction later in life. This has to be reframed immediately.

    3. Two thoughts:

      (1) The first source Mosack cited is from Ascend, which was formerly known as The National Abstinence Education Association — clearly, this is not an unbiased source, nor does it represent peer reviewed science. At the very least, she should have included information that other NGOs provide that evaluate the CLAIMS made by abstinence-only advocates vs. the FACTS. For example, consult: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/409-the-truth-about-abstinence-only-programs.

      (2) There are a multitude of scientifically sound studies evaluating the contrasting efficacy of abstinence-only versus (comprehensive) sex education programs to which Mosack and others should refer. I can provide you with a list of references if you email me. But, to be brief for now, you should at least consult all articles in the special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health that was devoted to this topic.

      Suffice it to quote what the editor, Norman Constantine, concluded in his editorial commentary on this journal’s special issue:

      “Moral values do have a place in public policy discourse,
      yet it is imperative for all sides to recognize that there is no
      evidentiary basis for AO [Abstinence-Only, clarification mine] education and that a growing
      foundation of convergent evidence favors CSE [Comprehensive Sex Education, clarification mine]. For sex
      education policy in the United States to become evidence-based,
      the overwhelming majority of parents and the general
      public who hold pragmatic public-health–oriented moral
      values about this issue will need to speak more assertively
      [20]. To help bring this about, adolescent health professionals
      have a unique opportunity and responsibility to take an
      active advocacy role.” p. 325)
      (Constantine, N. (2008). Converging evidence leaves policy behind:
      Sex education in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health,
      42, 324-326).

  2. The controversy over this bill gets me confused. It says, “prohibiting instruction in: the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior…” so doesn’t that mean they won’t teach explicit sexuality instruction? I also can’t find anything about pornography at all in the bill or anything about sexual abuse – added or removed. It does say something about helping kids recognize situations of sexual violence and how to safely deal with them.

  3. “youth who receive abstinence-oriented educations are more likely to not know the role of contraception (particularly condoms) in the prevention of spreading disease.”

    Let’s stick to the facts here: condoms don’t PREVENT sexually transmitted diseases, they only reduce the risk.

    “a majority of Utahns do not agree with this method of sex education being taught to their child.”

    No, that’s not what the article you link to says. It was a poll asking if they think contraceptive use should be taught in school, not if they agree or disagree with abstinence-based education.

    “hormone crazed teens don’t make smart decisions”

    This is the view of the Comprehensive Sex Ed coalition: that teenagers are uncapable of making smart decisions and should be allowed to let their hormones rage. I’m sorry, but I was a teenager once. I made plenty of smart decisions, including abstinence.

    “avoid pregnancy and STI transmission”

    The only real way to avoid pregnancy and STI transmission is abstinence.

    “less effective than other methods”

    This is a flat out lie. Plenty of peer-reveiwed studies have shown that abstinence-based education is just as effective, if not more, as comprehensive sex education.

    “treating teenagers like people”

    So first he calls them “hormone crazed teens” and now he says we need to treat them like people? Hypocrisy anyone?

    “No, King is not doing away with abstinence education. No, King is not telling teenagers to give into their hormones. No, King is not shutting parents out of the process or forcing state approved sin education upon innocent youth.”

    But that is the admitted ultimate goal of King’s supporters (like Planned Parenthood). It happened in California, Hawaii, and other states. It can happen here, too.

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