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Utah News

Utah Lawmakers Discuss Enhanced Human Sexuality Education Curriculum

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Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that, if passed, would add to the human sexuality education curriculum in public and charter schools.  At least one lawmaker is questioning whether passing a comprehensive human sexuality education bill is needed.

Republican Kurt Webb of Providence said during an interview on Utah Public Radio’s Access Utah that he will not support the bill to amend current reproductive education curriculum in Utah's school. The bill would allow health instructors to teach about human reproduction, anatomy and reproductive physiology. The curriculum would include information about all methods to prevent unintended pregnancy, including emergency contraception, and information about sexually transmitted diseases. The bill also supports a program to train students on ways to develop decision-making skills and address emotional aspects of human sexuality.

“Those are interesting things to throw in there, but the things missing are the old, value-based reasons for doing it,” said the Republican from Providence.

The sponsor of HB246 is Democratic Representative and House Minority Leader Brian King of Salt Lake County. King said he sponsored the bill after reviewing Utah Department of Health reports that show the number of sexually transmitted diseases among Utah teens and young adults is on the rise. While Webb said he is aware of the upward trend he is not convinced there is a correlation between reproduction healtheducation classes and the increase or decrease in the number of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

“Teaching isn’t really stopping the activity and more teaching doesn’t mean it will be better,” said Webb. “If you really want this education, is there an alternate way to get it?”

Webb said instead of enhancing the existing public school human sexuality curriculum, parents who are not comfortable addressing the topic with their children should consider paying for private programs. The bill’s sponsor disagrees.

“This is a public health issue as much as it is anything,” said King. “We are not knowledgeable about that in the same way a trained, competent health teacher in a high school or intermediate school level is. And, I don’t think there are very many parents out there who are competent to teach their children. I think that is when we need to have the public education system step in.”

King’s bill will also provide a Medicaid waver for family planning that would give access to low-income families to receive testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptives and well-women exams.