The Idaho House Friday passed an updated version of Rep. Barbara Ehardt’s sex education bill, which would require parents to opt students into discussions about human sexuality.
Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, first proposed moving from an opt-out to an opt-in system for sex education two years ago. The Senate Education Committee killed the first version of her bill in 2019, citing concerns about the potential costs and potential impact on a variety of academic disciplines.
Idaho allows parents to opt their children out of sex education discussions. Ehardt’s new bill would maintain that opt-out process for discussions of general anatomy and physiology of human reproduction. If discussions go beyond that, into human sexuality, parents would have to sign a form giving their child explicit permission to participate.
Ehardt’s bill defines human sexuality as any presentation “encompassing the topics of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, sexual pleasure or sexual intimacy.”
“We are not changing the content” of sex education, Ehardt told House members. “We are changing consent, and saying that some of these topics are of such a nature — I think all of them, to be honest — that parents need to be involved.”
A number of Republican representatives argued in favor of Ehardt’s bill, saying it allows parents to defend their religious values and demands more parental consent in a child’s education. Democrats said House Bill 249 would hurt students whose parents simply forgot to sign a permission slip, and could leave more youth without necessary information to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, questioned if the bill would prevent teachers from discussing current events or political appointees, such as the appointment of the nation’s first openly gay U.S. Cabinet member, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“Talking about sexual orientation doesn’t make anyone gay. Talking about gender identity doesn’t make anyone transgender. And talking about sex doesn’t make anyone pregnant,” McCrostie said. “Don’t penalize parents who are not able to be as involved in their children’s life due to their own extenuating circumstances. You can hold traditional views and still receive this information and not lose any of those heartfelt values.”
The bill passed the House on a vote of 56-12.
A group of Treasure Valley students who testified against HB 249 in the House Education Committee plan to hold a protest rally on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse at 5 p.m. Friday.
“This bill compromises the safety of my entire generation,” organizer Abby Gnojewski, 16, wrote in a news release. “Many teenagers are going to engage in sexual intercourse whether their parents like it or not. Not every child has a parent that is willing/able to have those important conversations with them. Without the crucial knowledge taught in comprehensive sex ed, kids will participate in unsafe sexual activities.”
You may also be interested in
- Education notebook – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
- California – Ravenwoode: Offering appreciation to health, education officials – Lake County News
- Education News – Texarkana Gazette
- US Department of Education Releases “COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs” | US – U.S. Department of Education
- The more you learn, the more you earn: education and poverty alleviation in Thailand – UN News
- Dep’t of Education issues emergency order waiving test requirement for seniors, series of adjustments – Florida Politics
- D.C. mayor proposes boost in education spending as she calls on schools to fully reopen in the fall – The Washington Post
- Faculty invited to apply to General Education Scholar Program | Penn State University – Penn State News
- US Department of Education Announces More Biden-Harris Appointees | US – U.S. Department of Education