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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

WISCONSIN: Wisconsin Senate Approves GOP-Backed Sex Education Bill


Associated Press (11.03.11) - Thursday, November 03, 2011

Late Wednesday, the state Senate approved a measure mandating that school districts choosing to teach sex education emphasize abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. The decision on whether to teach contraception would be left to the districts.

The Republican-backed bill essentially rewrites a Democratic- supported law, the Healthy Youth Act, which passed two years ago. It requires that schools offering sex education include proper contraceptive use as part of their curriculum. Wednesday's vote of 17-15 fell along party lines.

"This is about local control," said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the bill's author. Rather than being required to teach contraception, districts would have the option to forgo any lessons about the topic, she said.

Democrats are critical of the measure, viewing it as an attempt to force conservative ideology on the state's schools. "To pretend [children aren't having sex] is absolutely foolish," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). "You'd think we'd want to get out in front of this and make sure they learn properly there are consequences to their choices." The bill now goes to the Wisconsin Assembly. It is not known whether it will be considered this year, since Thursday is the last scheduled floor session until lawmakers reconvene in January. Though it is not on the Assembly calendar for Thursday, Republican leaders could take it up anyway.


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