The first purpose of HB364 is to take Planned Parenthood's philosophy out of our schools and out of our curriculum. Planned Parenthood's teachings are a bad fit for Utah.
Most parents assume that local teachers or Utah's State Office of Education created the current curriculum and training for sex education. That is not the case. Planned Parenthood — a nationally organized group that promotes promiscuous behavior and abortion — has been a major source for curriculum and teacher training for these programs. Their logo is prominently displayed on USOE's sex-ed training website www.growingupcomesfirst.org
Utah public schools will continue to teach health and human development. These biology classes will be clinical discussions. When the teaching of contraception or alternative life styles becomes the topic, the clinical discussion too easily changes into a counseling session on matters of sex. For school discussions, abstinence only is the safest approach.
Teaching abstinence is a matter of public health.
Kids are inundated with information about sex from many venues. To counter that, there must be at least one reliable source for teaching the benefits of abstinence. The evidence shows that sexually active youth have a significantly higher rate of suicide and depression than their peers who are not sexually active. Sexually active teens, especially boys have a higher propensity to engage in other high-risk activities such as alcohol and drug abuse. People who were sexually active as teens are more than 50 percent more likely to divorce later in life.
Utah has a compelling interest to keep her youth safe and healthy. Condoms are not foolproof in preventing pregnancy or STDs. Abstinence is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs as well as being a strong contributor to emotional health. Those messages needs to be reinforced consistently, not just presented in a spectrum of possible STD reduction methods.
In November of 2011, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating that there are 19 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia diagnosed every year in the United States, this does not include an "alarming" increase in human papillomavirus and genital herpes that are not specifically identified in the study because they are not included in the reporting system.
These new cases cost the health care system $17 billion each year. In the same report the CDC states "STDs are one of the most critical health challenges facing the nation today." The report confirms that these increases are coming at the same time that condom use among teens has increased.
Teens should be taught risk elimination not just risk reduction. It is the responsibility of parents and educators to direct students away from physically unsafe or detrimental lifestyles and toward those that enhance opportunities for successful, healthy futures. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to create scaffolding within the public education structure where educators can do that successfully.
HB363 was necessary to reclaim our schools' curriculum from Planned Parenthood's agenda and give our youth the best opportunities possible for a safe and healthy future.
Margaret Dayton is a Utah state senator representing District 15, Utah County.
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