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Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Utah’s Legislature is moving forward on HB363, a piece of legislation that would effectively end any comprehensive sexual education in Utah schools. The Salt Lake City Weekly:
House Bill 363 sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, argued that teaching contraception only encouraged immoral behavior, so his bill would allow for schools to teach abstinence-only or to opt out of teaching sexual education entirely. Wright said teaching sexuality wasn’t a priority in education. “This is not like all our students are going to die if they don’t learn promiscuous behavior,” Wright said. (emphasis mine)
Yes. That’s what he said.
In an editorial for the same paper, Rebecca Walsh opines
Anti-sex-education crusader Bill Wright would have loved me.
In seventh grade, I was just like the tiny blond granddaughter the Republican legislator from Holden hauled up to Capitol Hill last week as a prop for his legislative campaign, House Bill 363. I was the pristine product of a sex-free Utah public education and Mormon parents—innocent, naïve, clueless.
Then one day, I overheard a boy in the hall at school crudely describing the mechanics of copulation. In an instant, Troy rendered irrelevant my parents’ denial that we needed to have the talk and showed me the limits of my teachers’ silence. It was the end of innocence, delivered by a pimply teenage boy.
And that’s the problem with Wright’s (and my parents’) plan: It’s not rooted in real life.
American teens are shockingly misinformed about their bodies, birth control and pregnancy—Utah kids even more so.
A 2008 study by Self magazine and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found many young adults had “magical thinking” when it comes to sex—unsure of how often to take birth-control pills, unfamiliar with 28-day fertility cycles.
And that was among young adults with some level of sex education. In the information vacuum created by Utah lawmakers, sex ed ranges from abstinence-only programs in four school districts—Alpine, Canyons, Jordan and Nebo—to oblique references from frightened biology and health teachers in others.
When are we going to wake up to science and truth? High school students are having sex. Right now. Probably without condoms, birth control, and in Utah, without rudimentary knowledge of biological processes.
While this “teaching kids about sex causes them to have more sex” nonsense avoids the reality of the situation: as a society, we are ridiculously stupid about sex.
And if this bill gets through, that ridiculousness will be enshrined in Utah law.