The Utah State House of Representatives voted 45-28 in favor of a bill that would repeal the current requirement that all public schools must teach sex education to students in grades 8-12. The bill would instead allow each district to decide whether to offer an abstinence-only curriculum or to not offer sex education at all. Teachers would be allowed to answer student questions about safe sex but any instruction on or information about birth control or any other forms of contraception would be banned. Currently, teachers are prohibited from promoting sex outside of marriage and contraception, but conservative lawmakers say that is not enough.
Republican Rep. Bill Wright sponsored the proposal, and thinks that lessons on friendship, love, and fidelity will decrease teen pregnancy and therefore the poverty rate. Stressing the need for a return to morality, the lawmaker had this to say:
“We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest … Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
But even some of Wright’s fellow Republicans don’t fully agree, with Rep Francis Gibson arguing that the abstinence-only curriculum in his district is not working and unplanned teen pregnancy is still a problem.
“I would hope as we make this decision, that we won’t think if we say abstinence only, that fairy dust will have been sprinkled and that teen pregnancy will no longer be a problem.”
Utah joins Wisconsin as the second state to recently force abstinence into state sex ed curricula, which is in deep contrast to New York State’s recent effort to broaden it’s curriculum to include information on bestiality and vibrators. The Utah measure will now go on to the State Senate for more debate and another vote.
Sex education in public school is always evolving and I’m sure if courses on vibrators are necessary, but any system that does not address the reality of teens having sex before marriage seems dangerous and misguided. Can an abstinence-only sex education course be effective in preventing teen pregnancy? Even if it could, is it the state’s responsibility to influence the sexual behavior of teens?
Read more here.
What do you think?