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Legislature passes bill to let schools drop sex education

Senators who supported HB363 say it’s not the school’s job to teach sex education; bill now goes to governor.\n

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

11th March 2012 09:57

Alessia Valenza | ILGA North America

"To replace the parent in the school setting, among people who we have no idea what their morals are, we have no ideas what their values are, yet we turn our children over to them to instruct them in the most sensitive sexual activities in their lives, I think is wrongheaded," said Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden.

A number of lawmakers, all Democrats, rose to speak against the bill Tuesday and ask questions. But Senate bill sponsor Sen. Margaret Datyon, R-Orem, refused to answer questions about the bill, saying "I think everybody basically knows where they are on this issue. Obviously, the senators may speak, but I don’t know that it’s going to be beneficial for me to try to debate or answer questions."

Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, said lawmakers often talk about wanting to keep government out of people’s lives, yet she said the bill would take away parental choice.

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, called the bill "a mandate against reality," as parents already have the option of keeping their kids out of sex ed. Relatively few parents make that choice.

Now, parents must opt their children into sex education classes if they want them to participate, and districts may already choose to teach abstinence only. Under the bill, however, districts may choose not to teach the topic at all, or, if they do teach it, they must teach abstinence only.

"It’s concerning when now we’re trying to dictate morality," Robles said.

Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said lawmakers must understand that not all kids will learn about the topic if it isn’t taught at school.

"We’ve been discussing this as if every child has the benefit of two loving and caring parents who are ready to have a conversation about appropriate sexual activity, and I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case," Romero said.