House Bill 414: Relating to Sex Education, The Deleting of Family

Filed in Uncategorized by on January 28, 2018 2 Comments

House Bill 414: Relating to Sex Education

By Stephanie Gifford

A new bill has been introduced relating to sex education. It is HB 414 (https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2018/legislation/H0414.pdf ) and will be heard soon in the House Education Committee, possibly even this coming week. This bill takes four sections of Idaho Code and reduces them to one section. Normally I’m all for consolidating laws, but this bill does much more than that. Following are four concerns that parents need to be aware of:

1. Definition of “sex education”

The first concern is found on line 15, where this bill adds to the definition of “sex education”. Section 33-1609 currently has a very succinct definition of sex education as “the study of the anatomy and physiology of human reproduction”, but this bill would add something far more ambiguous: “The development of healthy relationships.” At first glance we might think that this is an obvious point that we would want our children to learn, but, unfortunately, the world in which we live requires us to look at possible consequences of this language. Who defines a “healthy relationship?” Throughout the country, there is a push (including in the neighboring state of Utah) to adopt Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) guidelines. (http://siecus.org/_data/global/images/guidelines.pdf ) Here are some examples of those guidelines for instruction:

  • Children may have a mother, a mother and a father, two mothers, two fathers, or any other combination of adults who love and care for them.
  • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth, like heterosexual youth, may or may not date.
  • As two sexual partners become more comfortable with each other, the nature of their sexual responses may change and may become more rewarding.
  • Couples have varied ways to share sexual pleasure with each other.

Though this is a very small sampling of CSE guidelines, any of these can be relevant in a discussion of “the development of healthy relationships.” Perhaps those particular standards will never come to Idaho, but I only seek to illustrate the fact that ambiguous definitions leave us open to the adoption of standards and curriculum that are not aligned with the values of most Idahoans. The current definition of “the anatomy and physiology of human reproduction” should ensure that teaching is kept in the scientific realm and does not move anywhere near the ever-changing theories of gender identity and socially “normal” sexual behavior.

 

2. Local control

A second concern is found in lines 19-21. HB 414 is said to promote local control, but in reality, it reduces local control from what is currently stated in 33-1608. In subsection (2)(a) of HB 414 we see that the state board would now be tasked with deciding reliable sources for curriculum. That state board authority can leave very little leeway for local districts to develop and revise curriculum as they are granted in subsection (3). It puts yet more strings around local districts.

 

3. Parental notification

A third concern is found in subsection (4). Granted, this language is carried over from current statute, but it is still cause for concern. With such a sensitive topic as sex education, parents should be notified when this instruction is taking place so that they can be fully informed of what their children will be taught and decide whether or not it’s appropriate for their child to take the course. Maturity levels of children and individual family values vary greatly, and schools need to respect that and inform parents. Even Washington State requires parental notification at least one month in advance of any sex ed instruction. (See WAC 392-410-140 at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=392-410-140). The state of Utah goes a step further and requires parents to opt in to these classes by giving written consent in advance for their children to participate. (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter10/53G-10-S403.html?v=C53G-10-S403_2018012420180124). If we truly believe that parents are primarily responsible for their children’s education, we should ensure that they are fully informed about when this instruction will take place.

4. Removing language that affirms parental and individual responsibility

A fourth concern deals not with HB 414, but with what it deletes. It is erasing an entire section of code that affirms the parents’ primary role in educating their children about sexual matters, and the moral responsibility of families and individuals. The current language of 33-1608 states in part: The legislature of the state of Idaho believes that the primary responsibility for family life and sex education, including moral responsibility, rests upon the home and the church and the schools can only complement and supplement those standards which are established in the family.” I would hope that our elected representatives would work to strengthen families and not remove language from state law that affirms the primary responsibility of parents in this area. Our society desperately needs greater emphasis on family, not less. We should not allow this language to be removed.

Here is the current Idaho law to compare it to.   https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title33/t33ch16/

If you share concerns about this bill, please take a moment to email members of the House Education Committee and urge them to vote no on HB 414. Their email addresses are listed below. Writing “No on HB 414” in the subject line will help busy legislators to quickly receive your message.

Julie VanOrden jvanorden@house.idaho.gov

Patrick McDonald pmcdonald@house.idaho.gov

Paul Shepherd pshepherd@house.idaho.gov

Judy Boyle jboyle@house.idaho.gov

Lance Clow lclow@house.idaho.gov

Ron Mendive rmendive@house.idaho.gov

Ryan Kerby rkerby@house.idaho.gov

Don Cheatham dcheatham@house.idaho.gov

Paul Amador pamador@house.idaho.gov

Gayann DeMordaunt gdemordaunt@house.idaho.gov

Dorothy Moon dmoon@house.idaho.gov

Scott Syme ssyme@house.idaho.gov

Barbara Ehardt behardt@house.idaho.gov

Hy Kloc hkloc@house.idaho.gov

John McCrostie jmccrostie@house.idaho.gov

Sally Toone stoone@house.idaho.gov