Happy International Women's Day - Unless You Live in Utah

Well happy International Women's Day to you, Utah! So great to hear this IWD morning that the State of Utah has just voted to ban comprehensive sex education. They have voted - 19 to 10 (not even small margins here folks) - to pass a bill that would make it illegal to teach anything in public schools except abstinence only sex ed. Lovely little features of this newly passed bill include:
- removing the choice of the individual school to teach abstinence based sex ed (which advocates abstinence as the best choice but acknowledges other choices and teaches about them)
- removing the choice of the parent to opt their children into comprehensive sex ed by removing comprehensive sex ed completely
- making it illegal (illegal, folks, I'm not kidding) for teachers to talk about contraception AT ALL
- removing all discussion of homosexuality from the curriculum and barring teachers from talking about it EVEN IF A STUDENT ASKS

Those who voted for this utterly insane piece of legislation say they did so because they believe that it's the parents' job to teach kids about sex, not the teachers. What they are disregarding here is the rights of parents who do believe that it's a schools job to teach about sex ed. If you believe that it's not, why not home school your kid or pull them out of sex ed (which the existing rules allow them to do)? Why make it unavailable to every child?

They also say that they don't want teachers talking to kids about sex because these are people they don't know and they have no idea what they're going to teach them. WHAT? You know exactly what they are going to teach because there is an approved curriculum that tells them what to teach. A teacher cannot tell his students in sex ed. that bestiality is normal and healthy because that it not on the curriculum. Just as a teacher cannot tell his students in social studies class that Hitler was misunderstood and that the holocaust has been greatly exaggerated.

All of these aguments are just a front to try to justify a completely inexcusable position. These people believe that not teaching kids about sex will prevent them from doing it. They also want to impose their narrow (and very much minority) values about sexuality on other people.

The fact is that abstinence only sex education does not work. We know that without a shadow of a doubt. Study after study has shown that the most effective way to lower the age at which teenagers start having sex, to lower the rate of unintended teen pregnancy, and to lower the rates of STI's among teenagers is to offer comprehensive sex education that includes information on birth control and STI prevention. This is now an indisputable fact. The insistence of these people that sex ed is innappropriate is a moral belief, not one based in any sort of evidence-based research. This bill will harm their children and everyone else's and yet they insist on holding to their moral standards regardless of the effect.

The bill is not yet law. It must be signed by the governor. I don't know anything about the governor of Utah and I have no idea if he will sign it. We can only hope not.