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Oklahoma House Defeats "Opt In" Sex Education Measure

March 13, 2008

By a one-vote margin, the Oklahoma House on Wednesday rejected a measure that would have required parents to provide written permission in order for their children to receive sex education instruction in public schools.

A survey by Child Trends last year showed Oklahoma has the nation's 12th-highest rate of repeat births to teenage mothers, and opponents of HB 2628 said it would make addressing the problem harder.

Since the primary purpose of sex education in Oklahoma schools is to teach abstinence, some opponents questioned why the bill was necessary. "Do not try to fix that's not broken," said Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove). The Legislature's only physician member, Cox noted that 49 percent of state teens have sex between ninth and 12th grades, and that pregnancy is the top reason girls drop out of public school in Oklahoma.

The bill's author had argued the measure was needed so parents would know in advance that their children were to receive sex education and have the opportunity to decline their permission. "They have the ultimate authority as to whether or not the child will attend," said Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee). "Children are born to parents, not the state." Faught said his own teenage children are being home-schooled.

"This is a bad bill," said Rep. Ed Cannaday (D-Porum), a former educator. "We're trying to micromanage an area that we have no business."

After the measure failed by a 51-50 vote, Faught held it for reconsideration; this allows him to ask the House to vote on it again.

Back to other news for March 2008

Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.13.2008; Tim Talley

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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.
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