On Tuesday, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann made the right move and blocked consideration for a bill on sex education.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen R-Snowflake, would bar sex ed in schools before the seventh grade, would tighten up requirements for school boards to review the proposed course and would provide time for parents to see what materials would be used and set up a system for parental complaints, Capitol Media Services (CMS) reports. It also would require any course to focus on abstinence.
The bill also would spell out that instruction on HIV and AIDS could be taught only with parental permission, and only at upper grades, CMS notes.
Initially, the proposal included language that barred even the mention of homosexuality in schools, the Associated Press reports, noting that Allen pulled that provision last week.
The bill also would allow parents to sue if they felt a school or district was sidestepping state law, AP reports.
Currently, parents can review materials, and opt to remove their children from any sex education.
Teaching sexual education in schools has always been a controversial subject.
However, knowledge is power. Arming children with information can help them make smarter decisions.
That information can help teens avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Contraception is part of the conversation, and so too is abstinence.
Teens especially need to understand the risks, and how to keep themselves safe.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey that found an estimated 55% of male and female teens have had sex by the age of 18.
A 2018 study by the CDC, meanwhile, found that 30% of teens report that their parents have never spoken with them about sex.
U.S.News and World Report cites a study that found teens who are well-informed on the subject of sex aren’t in a hurry to do it themselves. And that’s important to remember.
As we often note, knowledge is power. Focusing on abstinence is only part of the story. Having conversations with your child helps them understand these subjects, and lessons at school help reinforce those conversations.
Parents in Arizona currently have the right to determine whether or not their children participate in sex ed conversation in the classroom, and to review the materials.
But schools deserve to have the ability to present as much information as possible to the students that do opt in - and a bill that limits the information doesn’t make sense.