Our View: Sex ed bill not needed

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:54 AM

Editorial Board

An effort from Ogden state Sen. Stuart Reid to require the Utah Board of Education to offer sex education training to parents is not needed. Parents have ample opportunities to learn about sex education, and having teachers or administrators teaching — online —sex education to parents is opposed by Utah’s educational leaders.

Our position now is a reversal of support we offered Reid’s proposal last fall. At that time, it appeared that state education leaders supported Reid’s proposal. Also, the proposal was pitched as not costing money. However, several months later, the State Board of Education does not support Reid’s Senate Bill 39. Also, a provision in the bill to notify parents of the online courses will likely come with a price tag.

There is no doubt that some parents are negligent in making sure their children learn about sexual issues, but having educators prepare an online curriculum, as SB39 mandates, provides state Board of Education officials with the unneeded task of writing an entire new curriculum while making sure that what the parents are taught is appropriate for their kids, the students.

Reid’s proposal also mandates that parents officially be notified — at least twice a year — that the online sex ed course is available. State Board of Education Superintendent Martell Menlove is concerned that twice-yearly mailings to the parents of 600,000 state students could cost $500,000. That’s a big sum in a year where a state budget deficit is expected.

The schools have an important responsibility to educate students on sensitive matters, such as sex education. Parents have the right to keep their children out of the classes. One idea behind SB39 is that it would shift sex education duties to parents who are uneasy with the state educators’ teaching of the subject.

However, we doubt that the curriculum provided by Reid’s bill, because it is produced by state educators, would satisfy parents who are reluctant to have their children learn sex ed in schools.

We support educators teaching sex education in schools. Parents should be encouraged to make sure their kids attend sex ed in school. If they are unwilling to do that, they should make their own effort to learn about these issues. We don’t need to expend more energy, or money, on a curriculum that is already provided.

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