Utah Legislator Drafts Bill Requiring HIV/AIDS Education in Schools
January 20, 2005
Utah state Rep. Carol Spackman Moss (D) has drafted a bill that would require public schools to teach HIV/AIDS prevention education, the Deseret Morning News reports. Currently, Utah's core health curriculum -- which dictates uniform standards for public schools -- includes prevention education on communicable diseases in all grade levels. The secondary curriculum "touches on" sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention information, according to the Morning News. Although parents must give consent for their children to attend the secondary curriculum classes, few parents opt to have their children excluded from the classes, according to Frank Wojtech, a health and physical education specialist in the state's Office of Education (Toomer-Cook/Collins, Deseret Morning News, 1/18). Education officials say that while most students are "getting the basics," the lessons vary by school and community because HIV/AIDS education is "inherently tied to human sexuality," the AP/KSL TV reports (AP/KSL TV, 1/18). State health officials "fear" that teenagers are not receiving proper HIV/AIDS education to prevent the spread of the disease. The education "varies from district to district and ... without a better term, the morality of the community," Wojtech said, adding, "Some teach to the very extent of the law, and others are quite limited." The bill -- which currently is in draft form and includes one line saying that schools must include HIV/AIDS education in health programs -- plans to "complement" the efforts already in place, Moss said, according to the Morning News. However, education officials are unsure if the bill would be able to make HIV/AIDS education uniform and comprehensive throughout the state. "It would be nice if every teacher were teaching exactly the same information ... so it wouldn't vary from one district to the next," Wojtech said. However, it is "unknown" whether or not individual communities will retain the right to edit sex education information, according to the Morning News.
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.