Have you ever invited a teenager to sit down at a computer, go online and learn about sex? It would be so convenient, he could just Google any questions he may have.
Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, wants to pass a bill to help teenagers do just that.
The irony of online sex education is rich. Most parents are trying to prevent their teenagers from learning about sex online. It’s a horribly dreadful idea.
Not all parents responsibly teach their children about sex at home. The state recognized long ago that sex education is important enough to include in Utah’s curriculum.
Kids need facts about sex, not stories about birds and bees. And they need those facts from real, live people, whether it be their parents or their teachers. Health teachers are trained in how to present this sensitive material, and are ready and able to answer any questions. Can a computer do that?
Fawson suggests that the threat of future litigation is partly driving his effort to move sex ed online. He insists that legislators should update the curriculum to focus on reproduction and downplay the cultural minefield of sexuality. His argument is a red herring.
The most recent litigation, brought by Equality Utah against the state, attacked existing law that included an outdated prohibition on any “advocacy of homosexuality.” The Legislature repealed the provision during this year’s legislative session because it did not comply with current law relating to same-sex relationships. Equality Utah would have sued whether sex ed was in the classroom or online – the problem wasn’t the mode of transmission but the actual curriculum itself.
And with the current educational funding issues Utah is dealing with, funding an entirely new sex ed curriculum is a nonstarter.
While Fawson’s bill is an attempt to take the sexuality out of sex in a prudish grasp at yesteryear, conservative pushback illustrates the trouble with reforming sex ed in Utah: Fawson’s bill is vulnerable to attack from even bigger prudes on the far-right. School board member Lisa Cummins said about Fawson’s bill, “This is about a bullying tactic to get into our schools an idea that is contrary to the foundation of our state’s values and principles of family orientation.”
That seems to be exactly what Fawson was trying to avoid.
Whether a proposed sex ed modification opens a window for those meddling whoremongers or puritan Eagle Forum devotees, it seems best to just leave sex ed alone.
Our kids don’t need any more reasons to sit down in front of a computer and learn about sex.
Correction: Nov. 13, 10:15 p.m. • The phrase "cultural minefield of sexuality" was not a direct quote.