The Birds and the Bees in the Beehive State
Utah’s lawmakers moved a step closer to making sex education optional in its public school curriculum, advancing a bill that would also prohibit teaching about contraception.
“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,” said bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
But Utah lawmakers who voted against the bill suggested it was irresponsible not to teach students about the health risks associated with unsafe sexual activity, and that contraception had to be a part of such discussions.
While sex education policies for public schools varies widely from state to state, and policymakers in Illinois, and Mississippi and Tennessee are among those grappling with the school’s role in imparting potentially controversial information to students. A coalition of health and youth organization is pushing for national sex education standards that would encompass a wide range of issues including sexual orientation and body image.
That effort is meeting resistance among some conservative organizations. National Abstinence Education Association president Valerie Huber told the Associated Press that “controversial topics are best reserved for conversations between parent and child, not in the classroom.”
But for many students in Utah and beyond, school might well be the only place they will get their questions answered.