SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to create at-home resources for parents on the subject of sex education failed to clear its final hurdle Wednesday.
The bill, SB39, cleared the Senate unanimously last week but was decisively defeated in a 16-50 vote of the House after representatives questioned its value in an age where a wealth of information and resources are readily available online.
Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, the bill's House sponsor, said SB39 would strike a balance between school and home education on sexual matters by instructing the state to create curriculum that could be used by parents. But many lawmakers questioned whether such an effort by the State Office of Education is a necessary use of the finite resources for education.
"Representatives, I'm just struggling trying to understand the need for this," said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. "There is no shortage of sex ed materials out there in the marketplace or from your church."
Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, said the bill might have been a good idea 20 years ago but not in today's digital world. During his comments, Cox held up his smartphone — which he called a "magic box" — and listed some of the results he found in a quick Google search of sex education resources, including information from TIME Magazine, Oprah Winfrey, Planned Parenthood and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Cox joked that an at-home sex ed curriculum may very well be of value to the "two people who would actually look at this" but overall was not a pressing need.
"I just really don't understand why we continue to walk down this path," Cox said. "There are plenty of answers out there if this is indeed a problem."
Following the vote, Peterson mimicked the sound of a sad trombone, which drew laughter and applause from the assembly.