By Steve Urquhart
Utah State Senator
It has been interesting to listen to the conversation about Governor Herbert’s veto of Rep. Wright’s bill that would have outlawed discussion of contraceptives in sex ed courses. Much of that conversation has been factually incorrect.
For example, people have said that the veto will lead to advocacy of homosexuality in schools and to condom and zucchini enactments. Well, in a word, no. The veto simply leaves us with our current law. So, the relevant question is whether those activities are happening under our current law. The answer is “no.”
Sex ed is taught in our high schools every year. Out of all those classrooms and all that instruction, where are the examples of promotion of homosexuality and risqué theater? They don’t exist. Current law has served us well. From a factual standpoint, then, this bill was a solution in search of a problem.
Next, to determine the need for this legislation, let’s take a look at current law. In much of the dialogue, I have heard people say that Rep. Wright’s bill is needed because they want abstinence taught and that they don’t want any advocacy of pre-marital sex, homosexuality, or contraceptives. OK. Let’s see how our existing law measures up.
Subsection1(b) says instruction shall stress:
(A) the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and
(B) personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.
Subsection (c)(iii)(A) prohibits instruction in:
(I) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;
(II) the advocacy of homosexuality;
(III) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or
(IV) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.
These existing provisions are why (circling back to the existing factual reality) Utah students don’t come home with stories of nefarious indoctrination by their teachers. Our existing law is good.
Our existing law could be beefed up in 2 areas: consistency in the discussion of contraceptives and better parental notification. But, based on my experience, it would be tough to make such commonsense changes, because the conversation on sex ed quickly strays from facts and actual language.
And, I get that. Human sexuality is a huge deal, and it has great significance to just about everyone. It is a sensitive topic. With that in mind, I don’t mean to provoke. Rather, because the issue has great significance to me too, I simply intend to pull the discussion back to facts and actual language. My take is that our existing law went through a far better process than Rep. Wright’s bill and, as a result, is a far better law. It has served us well, and it will continue to do so.
Also posted today on SteveU.com.