Minnesota: Bill Would Stress Abstinence in Sex Ed
March 19, 2003
Proponents say that an abstinence-until-marriage bill that passed Minnesota's House Education Policy Committee Tuesday is needed because comprehensive sex education programs give students conflicting messages that may encourage sexual activity. But critics say the bill is unnecessary and could result in programs that do not provide students with needed information on contraceptives and STDs. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), requires districts to offer instruction in "abstinence until marriage that is premised on risk avoidance." It now goes before the full House.Adapted from:
Current law already requires curricula to help "students to abstain from sexual activity until marriage." But Erickson and others said most comprehensive sex education programs also include frank discussions about contraceptives and other issues, giving the implied message that some forms of sexual activity are acceptable for young people.
"I think we give our kids information that is more destructive than helpful," said Rep. Alice Seagren (R-Bloomington). Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake) said, "This kind of education destroys young ladies' modesty."
Democratic-Farmer-Labor members said Erickson's bill requires districts to offer a dual track of comprehensive sex education programs and a separate course for abstinence-until-marriage. They also questioned the need for such a program if current law already requires school districts to include abstinence information. "The strength of Western civilization is the power of information," said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul). "But what you have under this bill is possibly not getting information to those who most need it. You don't build a strong Minnesota based on limiting information," said Mariani.
Information about the bill, HF580, is available at www.leg.state.mn.us.
Saint Paul Pioneer Press
03.19.03; John Welsh
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.