Utah public school students may soon be taught abstinence -- if Gov. Gary Herbert signs a bill to mandate abstinence-only sex education.
The bill, HB 363, overcame its last legislative hurdle yesterday when it passed the state Senate 19-10 -- mostly along party lines. Three Republicans sided with the Democrats in their opposition, the Deseret News reports.
Republican supporters of the bill argued that teaching children about sex is a job for parents. But the bill’s opponents -- mainly Democrats and the state’s Parent Teacher Association -- countered that:
"We've been discussing this as though every child has the benefit of two loving parents who are ready to have a conversation," said Democratic state Sen. Ross Romero in the Deseret News report. "That is not the case.”
Romero noted that it’s difficult for the 21st century child to escape sexual content on the Internet and worried that an abstinence-only education will lead to a rise in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
The bill specifically bans schools from discussing intercourse, contraception, sex between unmarried people and homosexuality -- most of which are currently covered in school but only with parents’ permission.
The governor has not said whether he’ll sign the bill, reports Deseret News.