- In a vote that could have made sex education in the state more comprehensive, Utah's House Education Committee decided to keep classes focused on abstinence.
- Another pending vote will determine whether or not the Committee amends a law that allows parents to excuse their children from sexual-abuse prevention training; HB335 would change the program from being opt-out to opt-in.
- Critics of HB335 point out that half of all childhood sex abuse is perpetrated within the home and one-third by family of child victims.
The Democratic lawmaker who introduced the sex education bill, Rep. Brian King, said he intended to help combat Utah's increasing levels of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Utah is far from the only state where sex ed has been controversial. In Louisiana, which has one of the highest teen birth rates and levels of sexually transmitted disease in the nation, similar reform efforts resulted in prolonged debate.
Historically, sex ed has been scarce in schools, according to Jonathan Zimmerman, NYU professor and author of the book "Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education." But that doesn't matter much, Zimmerman said, arguing that sex ed in schools doesn't affect teen behavior or the teen pregnancy rate. Instead, districts need to engage parents and entire communities around sexual health.