Utah Governor Mulls Sex Education Options

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is to make decision on whether to sign HB363 next week — the bill, having already passed the Senate, which will make it illegal for Utah school districts to teach abstinence-plus sex education classes. Utah already does not permit comprehensive sex education classes, but currently allows school to make a choice between not teaching the subject at all, teaching abstinence-only and teaching abstinence-plus. The crucial difference for schools, students and sex ed teachers if the bill becomes law is that discussion of contraception will no longer be allowed in the classroom.

Utah was already considered to be conservative in its sex education policies, with a curriculum considered to be ‘abstinence-based'. Some people think that the latest move to repress discussion of sexual matters amongst school children is a step too far:

Is it not categorically absurd to think that if we don't teach our children about it, they will operate effectively from a paradigm of ignorance and make good decisions?

Currently children in Utah schools are, if their parents give written consent, taught 4-6 hours of sex education during a health education class at the end of semester. Some districts already adhere to the new standards and will hardly be affected by the bill while others will need to revamp their approach to the subject to avoid mention of contraception.

There are strict controls on which teachers can teach sex education in Utah schools:

Sex education teachers, while in college, must take a one-semester course on how to teach sex ed, Wojtech said. Then they must participate in a four-hour State Office training session about what they may and may not teach. School districts and charter schools also must provide additional teacher trainings at least once every three years.

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