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Utah lawmakers kill sex-ed for parents bill

Published March 7, 2013 7:58 am

Education • House members say plenty of materials are already available for parents who want guidance.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Amid laughter and joking, lawmakers crushed a bill Wednesday aimed at helping parents educate their children about sex.

The House voted 16-50 against SB39, which would have required the state school board to develop and offer optional online training to parents. The bill would not have changed how sex education is taught in schools.

Bill sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, has said he decided to run the bill after debate last year over a bill that would have scaled back sex education in schools. That bill passed the legislature but the governor vetoed it. Reid has said he wanted to bring the discussion this year back to parental responsibility.

After solemn discussions as SB39 progressed, the Senate unanimously passed it last month. The House felt differently on Wednesday, to say the least. Several lawmakers argued that plenty of information is already available online from a number of organizations.

"There is an abundance of materials that would allow a parent, if they are so inclined, to choose a curriculum they were comfortable teaching their children," said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. "I don't think this is going to encourage parents to do that. I think this is simply going to be a use of resources that could better be used in another area."

Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, held up a smartphone during floor debate, jokingly referring to it as a "magic box" through which he or any parent can already access a variety of materials about how to teach kids about sex.

"I know the old adage in marketing is that sex sells and maybe as a legislature we continue to feel the need for this type of attention," Cox said. "I just really don't understand why we continue to walk down this path."

Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, also expressed concerns about putting the information online where children, as well as parents, would be able to easily access it. And Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, who spoke while holding a baby girl, drawing laughs from fellow lawmakers, also said he wasn't totally comfortable with the effort.

Floor sponsor Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, argued that people who aren't educated about sex can perpetuate a host of societal problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases. He argued that schools are a good conduit for helping parents educate their kids because parents are often in close contact with schools. Ultimately, his argument didn't persuade most of the House.

After the bill failed, Peterson jokingly mimicked a trombone, saying "wah, wah, wah" drawing applause from fellow lawmakers.