Missoulian (Montana) (02.06.13)
On February 6, the Montana House of Representatives supported House Bill 239 that would require parental permission before students can attend school sex education classes. Sponsors of the measure state that this is essential in coping with a progressively controversial curriculum. Social conservatives, who believe that local sex education policies are teaching bad morals, are attempting to set limits on these policies. In 2011, however, former Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed a similar bill that the Montana Legislature passed.
Supporters noted a heavily attended debate in Helena, Mont., where parents and school officials argued with each other over sex education. The proposed bill would also ban any organization that offers abortion services from assisting with sex education in schools. Conservatives are prioritizing House Bill 239, citing the approval of the November ballot initiative requiring parental consent for teen abortions. For the initial vote on House Bill 239, the measure was endorsed 54-43. The bill next goes to a final vote before facing the Montana Senate.
A few Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure. Opponents stated that parents currently can opt not to allow their children to take part in sex education, and they pointed out the burdensome nature of this proposal that requires opt-in permission. Challengers of the bill caution that inattentive parents and their students may not return the permission to take the classes, emphasizing that students who may need the classes the most will not receive the education.