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Sex ed bill would require parents to specifically opt-in their children to sexual education courses

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 19:17:10-05

BOISE — A bill requiring parents to specifically opt-in their children to sexual education classes is a big talker right now; especially after overwhelming opposition flocked to the statehouse this week.

The sex ed bill, which would change Idaho code, the current Idaho code allows parents to sign a form opting out their children from sexual education courses, would in turn do the opposite; not offer these classes to students unless their parent signs a form for opting-in. And Friday, it passed the House Education Committee 12-to-3, and will now head to the house floor.

Representative Barbara Ehardt of Idaho Falls introduced House Bill 120 this legislative session, stating her belief that the curriculum taught within the current sexual education program does not align with idaho values, "This sexual content is exceeding just the sex education," said Ehardt, (R) Idaho Falls. Ehardt also stated in a hearing earlier this week, “Silly me, I was only taught there was one way to avoid pregnancy and that was pure abstinence. The values taught in this program do not align with Idaho values."

Which is why Representative Ehardt proposed an amendment to Idaho code, which would only offer these sex ed courses to those students whose parents specifically give written permission to the school district.

"We had parents who are doing their due diligence, they went into look at the curriculum, they had gone through the entire course and had approved it for their child to participate, and then it turns out we had guest health educators coming, and they taught a curriculum that these parents would not have approved," said Ehardt.

The bill would amending the portion of Idaho code that requires school districts to inform parents of sexual education course material, to which the parent has the opportunity to opt-out their child.

"We're not saying we don't want to teach it, and we need to make that clear. This bill is about consent, it is not about content," said Ehardt.

Opponents of the bill disagree with Ehardt. They say the bill is more about content than Ehardt alludes.

"Representative Ehardt is afraid to say the word sex. The Idaho Legislature has consistently failed to protect everybody. Because we all are not, wait until marriage and have 3.1 children," said Lori Burelle, parent of an Idaho student.

Burelle stated that current Idaho code provides ample opportunity for a parent to opt-out their child.

"I already get notified via email and also a letter from the teacher about when there is going to be sex ed, and with opt-out, if I don't want my kid to do it then I send the paper back and the teacher has to process one piece of paper," said Burelle.

House Bill 120 will now head to the house floor for a full vote.