The Utah state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow schools to drop sex education, prohibit instruction on how to use contraception, and prohibit discussion of homosexuality in class,The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Legislators passed Senate bill HB363 19-10 after a short debate during which many senators expressed their belief that sex education is meant for the home, not school.
"To replace the parent in the school setting, among people who we have no idea what their morals are, we have no ideas what their values are, yet we turn our children over to them to instruct them in the most sensitive sexual activities in their lives, I think is wrongheaded," Republican state Sen. Stuart Reid said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The bill lifts the current requirement that all public schools must teach sex ed in grades 8 through 12. Districts would decide whether to offer sex ed classes that teach an abstinence-only curriculum, or not offer the course at all.
Teachers would be barred from talking about homosexuality even if asked about it by a student, KTSU-TV reports. They also must restrict their sexual education curriculum to advocating abstinence before marriage and remaining faithful to your spouse.
Those who voted against the bill are concerned that without formal sex ed, students' lack of sex knowledge will spark higher rates of sexually transmitted disease and teen pregnancies in the state.
"I believe knowledge is the most important aspect in anyone's lives," Democratic state Sen. Gene Davis said, according to the Daily Herald. "A child needs the right and correct answer."
Last month, Republican state Rep. Francis Gibson said that in the Utah school district he represents, the abstinence-only curriculum is not producing positive results, and that unexpected teen pregnancy is still a problem.
"I would hope as we make this decision, that we won't think if we say abstinence only, that fairy dust will have been sprinkled and that teen pregnancy will no longer be a problem," Gibson said, according to an earlier piece by the Daily Herald.
This decision by the state Senate to pass the bill comes after similar regulations have passed nationwide. Last November, the Wisconsin state Senate passed legislation requiring schools to promote abstinence in sex ed classes, but didn't prohibit lessons on contraception.