Senate Committee Approves Sex-Ed Bill
Special Report - June 10, 2009
A Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that would force the estimated 104 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts to implement a Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) curriculum in lieu of the existing Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) curricula. HB 88Healthy Youth Act was heavily amended on its way through the House until it was essentially a parental choice bill giving parents the opportunity to choose AUM, CSE, or no sex education for their children. The Senate Mental Health and Youth Services committee scrapped that approach in passing their new version Wednesday.
The new committee substitute bill requires all public school students in grades 7 through 9 to take part in a “reproduction and health safety education program” that would include material from both the current AUM curriculum and the proposed CSE curriculum. The bill gives no direction on how much of the course will come from AUM and how much will come from CSE. It also does not allow school systems that currently teach AUM to maintain that program. They must incorporate the CSE material regarding the “effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved methods” of contraception and tell students about “local resources for testing and medical care for sexually transmitted diseases.” The bill would also allow local school boards to “expand on the subject areas” without the existing requirements that a public hearing be held and that possible curriculum changes be made available to parents for review.
Some committee members expressed disappointment with the lack of parental choice and involvement while bill sponsor Rep. Susan Fisher (DBuncombe) commented that “this bill holds onto [abstinence] by a thread.” Committee co-chair Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird (DOrange) expressed excitement that partnerships between schools and organizations like Planned Parenthood would need to be forged to cover the material required by the bill.
“This is the worst version of this bill to date,” according to Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “It is nothing more than a deletion of abstinence-until-marriage in North Carolina in exchange for the condom and contraception focused comprehensive curriculum the majority of North Carolina parents and school systems have rejected. In one fell swoop, it would remove abstinence-until-marriage as the standard we give our children for sexual activity and parental choice on one of the most value-laden topics covered in school.”
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