Under new proposed legislation, children in the state of Arizona would participate in sexual education courses beginning in kindergarten unless their parents opt them out of the program.
Rep. Juan Mendez believes too many children are brought up believing incorrect information about sexual health, or having no knowledge on the topic at all. The result, he said, is disease and unwanted pregnancy, reports KJZZ.
Currently in Arizona, children are taught that abstinence is the most acceptable method for preventing pregnancy and disease. However, Mendez argues that more needs to be done to prepare those who do not listen to that message through the offering of age-appropriate, accurate information by trained instructors.
"We're leaving them to the risk of HIV, we're leaving them to the risk of pregnancy," Mendez said. "And it's our fault for not preparing them appropriately."
HB2410 discusses what must be included in sex education classes in the state. While it does include discussing the delay of sexual activity, it also adds that teachers should stress how important contraceptives and barriers are for preventing pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases, writes Jonathan Lowe for Tucson News Now.
The bill goes on to say that students in the state should be taught how to develop a relationship based on mutual respect and "free from violence, coercion and intimidation." Students should also be encouraged to talk with their parents, adults, and health-care professionals about their sexual activity and sexuality.
At the same time, Sen. Martin Quezada is pushing for the end of a law in which public schools in the state are required to discuss homosexuality in a negative light in sex education courses. Teachers are currently unable to promote homosexuality, or acknowledge that some methods of safe sex are also safe methods of homosexual sex.
However, Josh Kredit, attorney for the Center for Arizona Policy, referred to both proposals as "dangerous," adding that the current system makes the courses optional, requiring students who wish to participate to opt-in.
"This is mandating 5-year-olds start having sex education," he said. "They're trying to pull a fast one on parents that may not even know what their child is learning about."
Meanwhile, Mendez argues that Kredit is being an "alarmist" in his viewpoints and that his legislation calls for age-appropriate content for each grade level. He added that it could mean simply answering a question about where babies come from, reports Howard Fischer for AZDailySun.
Kredit, however, said issues of sex education should be left under local control.
The Center for Arizona Policy website believes homosexuality to be a learned behavior that can be "modified or even stopped" and states that there is "no scientific evidence" that supports a genetic cause for sexual orientation. The Center says that no reason exists to put an end to the teaching restrictions on the subject.
Because both bills are sponsored by Democrats, it is uncertain what the outcome will be when they face the Republican-controlled Legislature.