Washington: Senate Approves Sex-Ed Bill
March 8, 2007
After more than three hours of emotional debate Wednesday night, the state Senate voted 30-19 in favor of a measure banning abstinence-only education in public schools.
Most Democrats supported the legislation, saying it would not ban abstinence instruction but would prevent schools from teaching abstinence alone. They said students need complete, medically accurate information to avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Opponents countered that banning abstinence-only sex education takes power away from local school boards.
"No parent wants a fourth-grader to be talking about sex and anuses," said Sen. Pam Roach (D-Auburn), referring to a game about body parts that is included in one comprehensive curriculum.
Some parents may be so offended that they will remove their children from the classes, opponents warned. Sen. Val Stevens (R-Arlington) read a letter from a high school girl who said she was upset by a lesson on using the female condom. "The only person that I can think of that might benefit from such information might be a prostitute," he said.
Republicans tried to amend the bill to require parental permission and to make schools hold annual public meetings to tell parents about the curriculum. Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane), the majority leader, said state law already allows parents to review sex education materials. In addition, parents would still retain the right to opt their children out of the classes. The new guidelines would continue to stress abstinence as the only 100 percent effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs.
Almost 30 percent of Washington school districts now teach an abstinence-only curriculum, according to the Healthy Youth Alliance, which supports comprehensive sex education.
The measure now moves to the state House of Representatives.
Spokesman Review (Spokane)
03.08.2007; Richard Roesler