Kansas: Coalition Turning to Legislators to Protect Sex Ed
February 3, 2006
On Thursday, the Kansas Senate Education Committee agreed to sponsor the proposed bill from the Advocates for Abstinence Plus coalition. The measure would require school districts to offer comprehensive sex education that emphasizes "the benefits of abstinence," while still teaching about STD/HIV prevention and education.
Advocates for Abstinence Plus is comprised of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and is supported by ministers, parents, students, and health advocates. The coalition seeks to prevent local school boards from canceling sex education classes or moving to abstinence-only instruction.
For almost two decades, the State Board of Education required sex education classes. But as it revised rules for accrediting schools last year, that requirement expired.
"You cannot stop sexual experimentation. You can only stop risky behavior based on inaccurate information," Stephanie Bell, a senior at Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, said at a Statehouse press conference. "When our parents won't teach us about our bodies, we seek information elsewhere."
But Steve Abrams, state board chairperson, said the proposal appears to give legislators the power to decide what should be taught. "It sounds like something the state board ought have authority to deal with," he said.
The board split 5-5 over requiring districts to get parental permission before permitting students to take sex education courses. Some board members oppose most districts' policies of automatically enrolling students in such courses unless parents send a written request that their children be exempt. Health advocates, however, worry that fewer students will take the courses if enrollment is not automatic.
02.03.2006; John Hanna
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.