If any Utah friends are feeling particularly livid right now about the health care bill that just passed, welcome to my club!
For those who don't know what it is, House Bill 363 would allow schools to drop their sex ed programs. Schools that choose to keep sexual education on the curriculum would be restricted to teaching "abstinence only." No discussion of contraception, no discussion about the idea of sex outside of marriage, no acknowledgment of homosexuality. It could even be taken so far that if kids did approach an educator with questions about how to prevent STDs or pregnancy, the educator would not be allowed to give them that information (except to say, "Just don't have sex until you are married.").
It seems like the logic here goes something like this: "Parents are the best people to teach their children about their bodies and about sex. So the best thing to do here is make sure that nobody else is allowed to. Of course, there are all those teenagers whose parents are too embarrassed/unaware/uninterested to talk about it. That's too bad for those kids, but at least when they make poor decisions as a result of being completely ignorant and/or misinformed and wind up pregnant or diseased, that will just go to show how important parents are."
Way to turn teenagers (and their babies) into collateral damage, jerks.
The current program is an "opt-in" one--kids have to have parental consent to participate. And the fact that over 90% of Utah parents choose to opt-in should say something. Here are the majority of parents feeling that there is value in allowing the schools to participate in arming their children with accurate and appropriate information, and a few lawmakers are going to be all, "Well, forget what those parents think. I'm talking about this other kind of parent that I have in mind, and they don't want anyone to know anything. So there."
If you are so inclined, there is still time to sign this petition to the governor, encouraging him to veto the bill. Or just contact his office directly even though he already kind of said that he doesn't care what the citizens of Utah think.
Deseret News: Abstinence-only sex education bill passes Utah Legislature
Salt Lake Tribune Opinion Piece
St George News: Ignorance of sex is best remedy