Abstinence-Only Sex Education Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

(KCPW News) A divisive bill that would only allow Utah public schools to teach strictly abstinence-only sexual education is heading to the governor’s desk. House Bill 363 would also allow school districts to drop sex education altogether. Republican Senator Margaret Dayton sponsored the bill in the Senate. In a rare move, she refused to yield to questions from other lawmakers Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“Biology will still be taught in the schools, but once the conversation goes to contraception or alternative lifestyles, it’s gone from a clinical biological discussion into a sexual counseling bill. The goal as I stated is to get Planned Parenthood website to not be linking to the State Office of Education as an endorsement,” she said.

Nearly every Democratic lawmaker pointed to problems with abstinence-only education during the debate, including higher teen pregnancy rates. Democratic Senator Pat Jones added the current system is not broken.

“As watered down as it already is in our schools, it allows them to opt in,” she said. “I have heard from numerous people in my district and several of them said that all of the parents opted in. They wanted their children to have this minimal amount of education in our schools. What this bill is, is a mandate against reality.”

The legislation would ban any discussion of premarital sex, contraception or homosexuality. House Bill 363 passed on a 19 to 10 vote, with three Republicans joining every Senate Democrat in rejecting the measure. It has already passed in the House of Representatives.