The Utah House of Representatives has decided when it comes to sex education, abstinence is the only way to teach the curriculum. The bill, which is now going on to the state senate, will dismiss the current requirement that all public schools must teach sexual education in grades eight through 12.
If this bill passes and becomes a law in Utah, public school districts will have to decide whether to offer sexual education classes that teach an abstinence only curriculum, or not to offer the course at all.
This bill is a perfect example of why the public has begun to think that all legislators have lost their minds. If this bill were to become a law in Utah, its effects would be devastating to the youth of its state.
Teaching an abstinence only curriculum is an ineffective form of sexual education. Schools that have abstinence only sexual education tend to have higher rates of teen pregnancy, according to a study by Kathrin F. Stranger, department of plant biology at the University of Georgia, and David W. Hall, department of genetics at the University of Georgia.
According to the Daily Herald, Republican state Representative Bill Wright, an avid sponsor of the proposal, argued, “This is not like all our students are going to die if they don’t learn promiscuous
Wright fails to recognize that this bill does concern matters of life and death. If it were to become a state law, the health and wellness of youth would be hugely impacted in a negative way by withholding lifesaving information from them.
It is widely known that most parents do not share enough discussion with their kids about sex, and many parents depend on the sexual education courses at school to teach their kids valid and helpful information. However, advocates of the bill argue that teenagers could find that information on the Internet if they really needed to.
Anyone who has actually used the Internet would know that a great deal of information available on the web is inaccurate and misleading. Youth should not have to rely on the Internet as a primary source to find credible information about safe sex and contraception. Teachers are responsible authority figures that should be involved in discussing sexuality with students purely for the benefit of the student’s health and future decision-making.
Studies conducted in Utah also indicate “Latina teen-pregnancy rates in the state were four times that of the rest of the population,” according to the Salt Lake City Weekly. This bill has become a concern to public health, and withholding crucial information from youth because of a personal value system is unethical and detrimental.
The reality is that teaching abstinence only education is not going to result in fewer teenagers choosing to have sex, it is going to become an issue of teens making poor and uneducated decisions resulting in more unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and lifelong regrets.
Yet, Wright continues to disagree.
“We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest,” Wright said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
Here is what I think is devastating: politicians taking away a legitimate source of health information from youth at the moment in their lives when questions and situations arise where they will need it the most. Putting all religious orientation and personal beliefs aside, well-educated children are more likely to make better and safer decisions.
Readers, do your part and sign online petitions telling Utah not to ban comprehensive sexual education in public schools, and also to re-staff their House of Representatives while they are at it.