State Journal-Register (Springfield) (01.13.2014)
The State Journal-Register reported that a new state sex education law that took effect January 1 would have little effect on the curriculum offered in Springfield, Ill., area public schools. Previous law required public schools to teach abstinence as the norm, but allowed school districts to opt out of teaching sex education. The new law expanded the scope of sex education to include birth control and STDs and allowed school districts to develop their own “age-appropriate curriculum.” The new law continued to allow school districts to opt out of teaching sex education. Parents also had the right to review the school’s sex education curriculum and remove their children from sex education classes.
According to a State Journal-Register survey, the new law would cause few changes for Sangamon, Logan, Mason, and Menard County school districts, which already included birth control and STDs in their sex education curricula. Jean Anderson, regional superintendent for Logan, Mason, and Menard counties, reported no negative impact from the law. Len Onken, a health and physical education teacher at Chatham’s Glenwood High School, stated that he had experienced only two instances of “staunch resistance” from parents in 10 years of teaching about STDs and contraception.
The Illinois State Board of Education did not track sex education in the state’s more than 860 public school districts, but a 2008 University of Chicago survey found that 93 percent of public school districts offered sex education, and 65 percent of sex education teachers followed a comprehensive sex education curriculum that included STDs and birth control. Although Illinois’ teen birth rate has declined, chlamydia and gonorrhea incidence have increased, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Opponents of the new law asserted that parents, rather than schools, should provide sex education for their children.