Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Jessica Augustas (CQ) (left) leads a rally for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood Action Council holds a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in support of Sen. Stephen Urguhart's bill that would revise Utah's sex education.

During this year's legislative session, there was considerable debate over sex education in Utah schools. The issues debated covered many ongoing concerns, including whether sex education should be offered in schools at all, "abstinence-only" should be taught, instruction on contraception should be allowed, "opt-out" of sex-education should be permitted and what kind of human sexuality should be taught. Legislation was proposed, passed and then vetoed by the Governor. As these issues were argued, parental responsibility was not focused on or advanced.

There is really nothing new in the sex education debate. In one form or another similar debates have been ongoing since the early 1960s, when sex education was initiated at the dawn of the so-called "sexual revolution" — a revolution that continues today with all of its consequences. Some have described the sexual revolution as the enlightenment of a new morality for society, while others identify it as nothing more or less than the old immorality.

Nonetheless, with the advent of the sexual revolution, government determined that parents were ill-equipped to manage the sexual education of their own children in their homes. Since then, many parents have conceded the point by fully abdicating the responsibility for sex education to the government. Not surprisingly then, the recent round of debates ended with the popular notion of maintaining the government controlled, sex education status quo. Once again, parental responsibility was shoved aside with most of the long-held principles that conflict with the sexual revolution.

If it were not enough that parental responsibility is too often relinquished, more tragically children's innocence is being violated by the sexual revolution, and what is nearly as catastrophic is that too many adults do not realize what is happening to both children and society as a whole. Increasingly, children are being victimized by the morals of the sexual revolution and society is becoming more coarse because the once protective shield of parental responsibility is vanishing.

For example, since the emergence of government-controlled sex education and its promised benefits, there are now more children exposed to pornography and sexual activity at a younger age; there are more teen pregnancies and children born out of wedlock; there are more cases of sexually transmitted diseases and more abortions; and there are more non-traditional marriages, more not marrying at all or divorcing. Regrettably, under these trends, far too many children are suffering because adult self-interest is valued over parental responsibility and the interests of children.

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In an effort to help re-establish parental responsibility, new legislation was recently introduced designed to offer parents training and tools to teach their children about human sexuality in their homes. The legislation calls for instruction and publication development that can be taken home with the parent or guardian and used in a way appropriate for teaching their children. Additionally, it makes similar training instruction and publications available through the Internet that also can be adapted by parents to the benefit of their children. It does not change what is now being taught to children by the government.

This legislation, titled "Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training," is intended to advance the principle of parental responsibility and secure the sexual and moral well-being of children in Utah by confronting the trends that are now harming them. It facilitates parents' ability to train in the science of human sexuality while simultaneously enveloping it in a protective discussion of family values and morality. Hopefully, parents in Utah will see the virtue in it.

Stuart C. Reid is the sponsor of "Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training." He represents Utah Senate District 18.