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National News

Washington Lawmakers Consider Whether Sex Ed Info Should Be Correct

March 10, 2003

Washington sex education instructors would be required to give out only medically accurate information if a bill passed by the state House becomes law.

House Bill 1178 requires all publicly funded sex-education courses to provide "medically accurate" information supported by scientific research and experts in the sexual health field. "Our children deserve better than to be misled or misinformed," said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, the bill's sponsor.

The bill passed on Friday with a vote of 52 to 44, with opponents arguing it was a back-door attempt to ban abstinence-only sex education. Supporters said the bill simply requires that any information given out in sex-education courses be accurate, while leaving the specifics up to local school districts. Further, they said, the bill explicitly states that abstinence is the best method of avoiding STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

At the House Health Care Committee hearing on the bill, students testified of examples of incorrect sex education information they had been taught:

  • Women who are raped cannot get pregnant;
  • Condoms never work;
  • The "rhythm method" is the only viable method of birth control.

"I was lied to in high school," said Lindsay Scola, a sophomore at the University of Washington. "The sex education I received in my high school was unforgivable."

Supporters of comprehensive sex education called Friday's vote a victory. "This is a major step forward in the protection of young people against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases," said Gwen Chaplin, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Washington.

The legislation now faces a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, which Schual-Berke acknowledges will be an "uphill fight." But she remains hopeful following conversations with a few Republican senators who might favor the bill. "I think the door is open -- people are concerned that children are protected," Schual-Berke said.

For more information, click here.

Back to other CDC news for March 10, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.08.03; Kristen Gelineau

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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.