One Large Step Backwards; One Giant Leap Back to the Dark Ages

Today the Senate Education Committee heard testimony in support of SB54 Health Education Amendments, which would require schools to incorporate instruction abut contraceptives in health education course. Planned Parenthood of Utah sent out this message after the hearing:

Despite the presence of numerous pediatricians, teachers, students, researchers, and parents willing to testify in favor of the bill, the Senate Education Committee denied them that opportunity.  The bill as it is written was not considered or discussed.  Sadly, this signals an unwillingness on our Senators’ part to engage in a constructive debate about the facts, and a refusal to exchange ideas on how to address the issues we are facing as a community.

Fortunately, our campaign is not over and we still have half the legislative session to go.  Our champions, Senator Stephen Urquhart and Representative Lynn Hemingway, are still working hard on the Hill to see this through.  We have only gotten this far through your vocal support.  Your letters, emails, calls, and signatures have kept this issue alive, and thanks to your engagement, sex education still has a fighting chance.  Here’s what you can do now: tell Senator Urquhart and Representative Hemingway, directly WHY you support comprehensive sex ed.  Tell them your stories, tell them why you believe that education is key, tell them what you have seen and heard, and tell them thank you.  The Senate Education Committee may have closed out the public’s voice today, but they cannot silence you altogether.  Give our allies your stories to take with them as they continue their efforts.  Please take a moment to share your reasons for supporting sex education by emailing them at surquhart@utahsenate.org and lhemingway@utah.gov.

Not only was the bill not discussed as written, the Deseret News, Fox 13, the  Salt Lake Tribune,  and KSL are reporting on the silence of committee members:

….the bill proved so controversial that lawmakers chose not to even talk about it Monday morning, disappointing many who had come to speak in favor of the bill and thrilling others who showed up to speak against it. Members of the Senate Education Committee refused to let sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, present a new version of the bill.

Opponents of the bill feel that all education about reproductive health should be taught by parents:

The Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka said, “It broadened what they would be able to teach about contraception. We want to keep it the way it is. We have a policy to protect the children, and we want to keep it that way.”

Protection from…..what again?  Certainly not diseases, as Utah’s rate of chlamydia is rising rapidly.

Studies from Planned Parenthood of Utah show that Chlamydia is the No. 1 communicable disease in the state with five new cases reported every day and 5,000 new cases every year.

A substitute bill is being formulated by Sen. Howard Stephenson,R-Draper, whose idea is quoted in the Deseret News as:

….to make the sex education curriculum available online. That way parents could pick and choose what to teach and make the education more private and age appropriate for their child’s maturity level. “This is ideal for individualized instruction,” he said.

This is not realistic.  Not only are there parents who don’t discuss this with their children, there are many families who do not have computers or the time to instruct their children at home, due to having to work multiple jobs and helping their children just keeping up with their regular homework.

Please join in the discussion going on in response to this issue over at Utah Legislature Watch’s Facebook page.

Read previous posts on this bill here.


(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

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