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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UTAH: Utah House Committee Advances No-Sex Education Bill
Lisa Schencker
February 13, 2012
Salt Lake Tribune (02.11.12) - Monday, February 13, 2012

The state House Education Committee on Thursday voted 8-7 for a bill that would allow Utah school districts to discontinue sex education. The committee made substantial changes to the measure before advancing it for consideration by the full House.

Originally, HB 363 would have required districts offering sex education to teach an abstinence-only curriculum, and it banned discussion of contraception, homosexuality or non- marital sex. Critics feared the rule would encroach upon lessons in other classes, such as literature or history. The committee voted 8-7 for an amendment removing the ban on discussing these topics, but prohibiting their advocacy, as well as instruction on the use of contraception - which is very similar to current law.

Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City) said his amendment would allow districts to teach about contraception, but this was still unclear Thursday. HB 363 sponsor Rep. Bill Wright (R- Holden) said he would have to look more closely to determine exactly what the changes meant. Wright said he would prefer abstinence-only with no discussion of contraception.

As amended, the bill would allow districts to forgo teaching sex education altogether, whereas now high schools are required to teach it. Several people spoke against allowing schools to drop sex education, including Utah PTA President- Elect Liz Zentner. She warned that that advocates "who don't really reflect the ideals of the silent-majority parents" would lobby school boards to remove sex education entirely.

Before the committee vote, Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday said he supports current law. "I think how we have it right now works pretty well," he said.