March 19, 2012
Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday evening he vetoed a bill that would have required that only abstinence be taught in schools that offer sex education. Under HB 363, teachers would have been unable to discuss contraception, premarital sex or homosexuality. School districts would not have been required to offer any sex education curricula.
The bill went too far in restricting parents' choice of how their children learn about sexual activity, said Herbert. School-based sex education should supplement, not replace, lessons taught at home, he said. "In order for parents to take on more responsibility, they need more information, more involvement, and more choice, not less," he said.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bill Wright (R-Holden), said during the legislative session that teens need to know that only abstinence is guaranteed to avoid STDs and pregnancy.
"The veto was the right choice, and Utah Democrats support it," said Jim Dabakis, the state Democratic Party chair. "But the attempt to hush up the veto by doing it late on a Friday night was not the way to handle this."
The Utah Parent-Teachers Association led opposition against the bill, fighting it during the session and encouraging its members to send e-mails to the governor. After the Legislature adjourned, momentum grew and residents critical of the bill stated their opposition through phone calls, online petitions, and protests at the Capitol. Existing law allows students to learn about contraception and its risks, opponents said.
The Legislature would need to go into session and garner a two-thirds vote to override the veto.