An invoice that blocked earlier this session it would clarify what teachers can say – and a little of what they can not – about condoms and birth control pills was reinstated in committee on Tuesday when it passed unanimously.
The measure, however a relatively soft proposalhas been the subject of intense discussion for more than an hour and comes after legislators have tried in recent years to teach only chastity in all public classes. HB71 had failed in a previous vote on concerns that it would alter a state's law by moving away from abstinence.
But it only meant clarifying the meaning of the law, explained sponsor representative Ray Ward of R-Bountiful and providing more information to teachers.
"They do not know what is allowed," he said. "But I'm not trying to change what's allowed."
In Utah, it is mandatory to teach sex education to lessons based on abstinence that promotes chastity as the most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted infections and the only way to prevent pregnancy. Health instructors can talk briefly about contraception, but they are not expected to do so, and many do not. And they can not defend it.
Ward's measure would not change that. But this would remove the gray area and specifically allow educators to talk to students about "the medical features, effectiveness, and limitations of contraceptive methods or devices."
In an amendment that favored the passage of the bill by the House Education Committee on Tuesday, this article will now include "risks" with instructions "highlighting the importance of" l & # 39; 39, absence of sexual relations before marriage and fidelity after.
Carol Spackman Moss, representative of D-Holladay, joked that as a former teacher, her students took a step back when she used the word "condom." She added, "It's ridiculous that we can not say the right words for the things that exist. "
Ward's bill does pretty much the same thing, inscribing it into the state code and being supported by several parent groups and health organizations, including the Utah Public Health Association.
"We love the face that clarifies the language of health educators," added Sheri Mattle of PTA Utah.
Others, however, suggested that the bill was not necessary and that it was better for these discussions to go to each district, which can decide what their teachers say about contraception and provide training.
"Let's stay true to our goal," said Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum. "There is no reason to change."
The bill will now be submitted for review by the entire House. He will probably face similar – if not more acute – concerns in this country.