Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill Fails in Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - HB 215 was voted down in the House Education Committee Monday by a 12-2 vote. It would have allowed parents to opt their students into comprehensive sex education instead of abstinence only, or abstinence plus curriculum. Rep. Brian King of Salt Lake City, the bill's sponsor, said he's not giving up.

Rep. King said his bill requires parents to opt their students into the program with a signed waiver. It would allow teachers to discuss more in depth topics of sex, and consent along with other issues.

Several people in the committee crowd were against the bill, and showed it by wearing red to the hearing. It was standing room only and two overflow rooms were also filled with people.

Gayle Ruzicka with Utah Eagle Forum spoke out against the bill. She, like many others, cited the possible topics to be discussed, and worried it might instead encourage sexual behavior.

"Teaching to increase the use of condoms and contraception," said Ruzicka. "Well of course you have to teach them you just taught them to have sex."

Many people also spoke in favor of the bill saying parents should have the option. The argument made in favor was that current sex Ed. isn't enough. They cited high STD rates, and sexual assaults as a reason the topic needs to be discussed.

Abby Worthington is a student who gave testimony to the committee. She said students often go to unreliable sources if they don't get it from school.

"I believe my generation deserves information from the right sources," said Worthington. "My friends are going out and relying on the media and experience for their information."

Rep. King said during his testimony this bill was about giving parents and their kids the option to have fact based sex Ed. besides abstinence only. He claims with all the misinformation it's important to have curriculum to give people all the facts.

Rep. King also cited the dangers of leaving sex Ed. up to the internet and other sources. He read a news article about porn websites wanting to be so called teachers of sex Ed.

"I refuse to be passive in the light of aggressive efforts by pornography sites across the world in attempting to reach our children and and educated them about sex Ed," said King.

Although every Republican on the committee voted no for the bill, several did applaud Rep. King's efforts. They also acknowledged the serious issues of high STD rates and sexual assaults in Utah. They advocated for trying to tackle those issues.

Rep. King said he was encouraged by the response from several Republicans on the committee. He hopes to work on the bill over the next year and reintroduce it next session.

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