Tag Archives: sex education

One Large Step Backwards; One Giant Leap Back to the Dark Ages

Today the Senate Education Committee heard testimony in support of SB54 Health Education Amendments, which would require schools to incorporate instruction abut contraceptives in health education course. Planned Parenthood of Utah sent out this message after the hearing:

Despite the presence of numerous pediatricians, teachers, students, researchers, and parents willing to testify in favor of the bill, the Senate Education Committee denied them that opportunity.  The bill as it is written was not considered or discussed.  Sadly, this signals an unwillingness on our Senators’ part to engage in a constructive debate about the facts, and a refusal to exchange ideas on how to address the issues we are facing as a community.

Fortunately, our campaign is not over and we still have half the legislative session to go.  Our champions, Senator Stephen Urquhart and Representative Lynn Hemingway, are still working hard on the Hill to see this through.  We have only gotten this far through your vocal support.  Your letters, emails, calls, and signatures have kept this issue alive, and thanks to your engagement, sex education still has a fighting chance.  Here’s what you can do now: tell Senator Urquhart and Representative Hemingway, directly WHY you support comprehensive sex ed.  Tell them your stories, tell them why you believe that education is key, tell them what you have seen and heard, and tell them thank you.  The Senate Education Committee may have closed out the public’s voice today, but they cannot silence you altogether.  Give our allies your stories to take with them as they continue their efforts.  Please take a moment to share your reasons for supporting sex education by emailing them at surquhart@utahsenate.org and lhemingway@utah.gov.

Not only was the bill not discussed as written, the Deseret News, Fox 13, the  Salt Lake Tribune,  and KSL are reporting on the silence of committee members:

….the bill proved so controversial that lawmakers chose not to even talk about it Monday morning, disappointing many who had come to speak in favor of the bill and thrilling others who showed up to speak against it. Members of the Senate Education Committee refused to let sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, present a new version of the bill.

Opponents of the bill feel that all education about reproductive health should be taught by parents:

The Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka said, “It broadened what they would be able to teach about contraception. We want to keep it the way it is. We have a policy to protect the children, and we want to keep it that way.”

Protection from…..what again?  Certainly not diseases, as Utah’s rate of chlamydia is rising rapidly.

Studies from Planned Parenthood of Utah show that Chlamydia is the No. 1 communicable disease in the state with five new cases reported every day and 5,000 new cases every year.

A substitute bill is being formulated by Sen. Howard Stephenson,R-Draper, whose idea is quoted in the Deseret News as:

….to make the sex education curriculum available online. That way parents could pick and choose what to teach and make the education more private and age appropriate for their child’s maturity level. “This is ideal for individualized instruction,” he said.

This is not realistic.  Not only are there parents who don’t discuss this with their children, there are many families who do not have computers or the time to instruct their children at home, due to having to work multiple jobs and helping their children just keeping up with their regular homework.

Please join in the discussion going on in response to this issue over at Utah Legislature Watch’s Facebook page.

Read previous posts on this bill here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Sex Ed in Utah

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Educating our youth on birth control – sensibly

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George is working on a bill that would, if passed, required schools to incorporate instruction about contraceptives in health education courses.

According to a Salt Lake Tribune Poll,  citizens are evenly divided on the issue.

Urquhart said the poll results don’t surprise him, but he hopes that once people understand the details of his bill, they’ll be more supportive.

“This is a very scary topic for a lot of people,” Urquhart said. “People I talk with initially have a strong reaction one way or another but if we can talk about the particulars of the bill, they almost universally approve of it.”

Right now many educators do not even broach the topic since the current law, while allowing the instruction of contraceptives, has many restrictions on how and what can be taught.

Urquhart said the change is needed.

“Few things that our youth do can have more of a profound impact on their lives than sex,” Urquhart said. “We’re seeing that in the numbers of teenage pregnancies and infection rates of sexually transmitted diseases. Education can improve behavior in all aspects of life, including sex.”

Under this measure, abstinence would remain in the curriculum and parents would still have the opt-out provision for their children.

There is opposition, of course.

Gayle Ruzicka, leader of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said she would expect people of many faiths to have similar feelings.

“It is a religion that really pushes parental involvement,” Ruzicka said. “Those parents that realize it’s their responsibility, not the school’s responsibility are going to say, ‘Schools, stay out of the lives of my children when it comes to these very personal things.’”

Ruzicka said Wednesday she hadn’t yet read Urquhart’s bill but would oppose removing the prohibition against teachers advocating the use of contraceptives and would oppose requiring teachers to include contraceptives in their instruction.

“When you teach them about sex, that just encourages sexual activity,” Ruzicka said. She said the current law should remain in place.

This mindset has it that kids would never think about sex if they didn’t have sex education.  This is not admitting reality.  Kids think about sex and kids experiment, no matter what parents do to educate their children.  Pregnancies occur and many are those from families who think it will never happen to them.  The lack of sex education in schools likely has the opposite effect of  encouraging sexual activity.  There is no guarantee, either that most parents teach their children about sex.

Melissa Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Council (PPAC), however, said the results of the poll are surprising. PPAC, which worked with Urquhart and the state PTA to create the bill, conducted its own poll through Dan Jones and Associates in September. In that poll, PPAC asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed that “comprehensive sex education will likely reduce the number of unintended teen pregnancies.” Sixty-seven percent of those polled in the PPAC survey agreed.

This is a sensible bill.  Kudos to Sen. Urquhart for realizing the necessity of this plan.