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Birds and bees

Published October 24, 2012 3:42 pm

Parental sex education misses point
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

One Utah legislator wants public schools to get more into the business of teaching about the birds and bees. No, we're not talking about doing a better job of teaching teenagers about sex, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases — topics young Utahns surely need to better understand.

No, what Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, wants school teachers to do is give parents the facts so that they can, in turn, instruct their children, and public schools in the Beehive State can continue neglecting, by order of law, this most basic and necessary area of health education.

Excuse us, but we have to say this is a goofy, back-door way to address the very real problem of ignorance about sexuality that's so prevalent in our state.

In the first place, where does the good senator think the schools are going to find the money to develop a sex-education curriculum for parents, when they don't have enough resources, thanks to legislators such as Sen. Reid, to properly educate children?

Reid hasn't done his homework on the cost of such a program, but he said he believes it would be minimal. That's doubtful. And sorely underfunded public schools would have difficulty undertaking even a bare-bones new program to teach adults about sex.

It seems clear that what Reid has in mind is eventually replacing the minimal sex-education course now being taught in Utah high schools with the adults-only version, since legislators could then claim that parents are not only the appropriate fount for facts about sex but they would also be trained to deliver them.

If more money is to be spent on sex education, it should be spent to bolster the current curriculum for students and make it more comprehensive — and beneficial — to the people who need it most. Incidence of STDs is rising at an alarming rate among young people in Utah, and they display an astonishing lack of knowledge about how to prevent disease and pregnancy. Teaching children and teens how to keep themselves healthy is the job of the schools, but teachers' hands are tied by archaic laws passed by a Legislature that would rather act on useless message bills to demonstrate their opposition to abortion. Education is the key to fewer abortions, not partisan rhetoric.

The PTA now offers sex-education training for those parents who want to teach the subject at home. But there are many more who will always avoid the topic. The children of those parents, and they are probably the majority, should get accurate facts from professional educators in school.