Sex-ed Bill Rammed Through Committee
Special Report - April 2, 2009
Thursday afternoon, the House Health Committee severely limited debate, discussion, and amendments for a bill that would affect how millions of children in North Carolina schools are taught about sexuality. Members were given the opportunity to ask only clarifying questions on the wording of HB 88Healthy Youth Act and to consider only one of four intended amendments with no opportunity for substantive discussion or debate. On March 10, members of the House Education Committee were frustrated at the lack of time allowed for questions, debate, offering amendments, and comments from the public. Chairman of that committee, Rep. Lucas (DCumberland), had assured members and the public that they would be given ample time in a referral to the House Health Committee. Although public comments were taken in the Health Committee Thursday, debate was severely limited yet again. Click here to listen to the full audio of Thursday’s House Health Committee meeting.
The proposed “Healthy Youth Act” would place all students in North Carolina public schools into a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program, focused limiting the health risks of sexual activity through contraceptive means, unless parents explicitly ask for their children to be enrolled in an Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) program. Current law requires that students be taught that a “mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases” as a part of their AUM program. Local school boards may offer an expanded CSE program only after receiving parental input at a public hearing and making the proposed curriculum available for public review for at least 60 days. To date, fewer than 14 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts have opted for such a change. HB 88 would require all 115 school systems to change their standard sexuality education program from one focused on abstinence to one focused on contraception.
While North Carolina’s AUM program emphasizes abstinence until marriage and respect for marriage, it also provides for information about contraceptives in the context of effectiveness and failure rates in actual use among adolescent and teen populations. However, the proposed CSE program addresses not only marriage but also “committed relationships,” which may include homosexual, bisexual, and multi-partner relationships. It also requires instruction on ALL FDA approved methods of preventing pregnancy and “reducing the risk” of contracting STDs to students as young as 12 years old. More information on the changes proposed in the bill can be found in our Issue Brief on HB 88.
“The state should maintain a policy of setting the highest and most healthy standard for our students when it comes to sexual activity,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “After 13 years, the overwhelming majority of parents and school systems in North Carolina have chosen to teach our students that abstinence is the best and healthiest choice they can make regarding their sexuality until they are married. The State should support that choice, rather than attempting to over-ride it by stifling open and honest debate on this most important issue for the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health of our children.”
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