BOISE – State lawmakers heard testimony from the public about a sex education bill that would no longer make enrolling students in the course automatic.
The hearing Tuesday addressed a proposal by Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt that would require parents to give permission for students to take sex education, rather than the current system in which parents must “opt out” to remove their children from the course.
The bill would also require materials to be available to parents prior to enrollment.
Ehardt read from the teacher’s manual for the 16-week “Reducing the Risk” course taught in some high schools. The program emphasizes abstinence while also teaching birth control. She said the course “normalizes sexual activity among the youth” including “anal and oral sex” and uses role-playing situations that depict kissing and touching.
“I have to admit I’m of a different generation,” Ehardt said during the Education Committee hearing. “I didn’t even know what this was until college. It talks about putting a condom on.”
Idaho School Boards Association spokeswoman Quinn Perry said students who opt out of sex education might be blocked from sections of other courses including “anatomy, physiology, history, literature. Even animal science.” Those students could risk failing to meet all graduation requirements, Perry said.
A committee vote on the bill is scheduled for Friday.
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