Abstinence-only sex education bill passes Utah Legislature

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 8:14 p.m. MST

While explaining his opposing vote, Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, speculated that the bill would lead to an increased number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and result in a deficient curriculum. He said senators were being "naive" if they thought that children weren't being exposed to images of adult sexual activity over the Internet from a young age and added that those experiences lead to confusion about sexuality that may or may not be able to be addressed in the home.

"We've been discussing this as though every child has the benefit of two loving parents who are ready to have a conversation," he said. "That is not the case. There are kids in our community that do not have that luxury."

Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake, asked what problem the bill was attempting to solve. She emphasized the opt-in requirement in current law and added that every parent she has spoken with about the bill has allowed their student to participate in classes.

"What this is is a mandate against reality," she said.

But Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, said it was important to define what role schools and parents play in the education of a child. He said there is something wrong with parents sending their children to school to learn morals and sexuality and schools sending students home to learn how to read.

"Something is out of whack," he said.

Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, also questioned the role of schools in sex education, saying that he has a problem with what are essentially complete strangers teaching children the most sensitive issues that belong in the home.

Three Senate Republicans joined all seven Senate Democrats in opposing HB363, which passed with a vote of 19-10.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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