Lawrence Journal-World (02.18.2014)
The Lawrence Journal-World reported that Rep. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), introduced House Bill (HB) 2620—a measure that would “prohibit school districts from providing health and sex education to students without written consent from a parent or guardian"—for discussion in the Kansas House of Representatives’ education committee. The measure also would require school districts to share sex education materials with parents upon request. Discussions centered on how to engage parents in decisions about sex education.
Pilcher-Cook introduced HB 2620 in response to complaints about a poster, “How People Express Their Sexual Feelings,” displayed at Shawnee’s Hocker Grove Middle School. One father of a 13-year-old Hocker Grove student testified that some of the terms, such as “vaginal intercourse,” disturbed his daughter; the father opted to exclude his daughter from sex education as he has done in the past. The father stated that HB 2620 would return decision making regarding home- or school-based sex education to parents. It was not clear whether the poster—no longer hanging—was part of the Shawnee School District’s abstinence-based “Make A Difference!” program.
Spokesperson Julie Boyle stated that the Lawrence School District adopted an opt-out-policy in 2001 that allowed parents to exclude their children from part or all of the human sexuality curriculum. Parents also could request the district’s goals and objectives for the curriculum.
Opponents of the bill included the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) and the Kansas National Education Association. KASB Lobbyist Tom Krebs argued that collecting permission slips and monitoring which students attended classes would tax teachers and administrators. Kansas model health standards suggested that human health and sexuality discussions begin in the fourth and fifth grades, and that a comprehensive discussion of sex and sexuality take place by eighth grade.