The Illinois Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require sex education classes in public schools statewide to include information on contraception such as birth control and sexually transmitted diseases in place of abstinence-only curriculum.
The bill was approved by the Senate in a 37-21 vote after previously being OKed by the state House last month.
According to the Associated Press, the state's current law states that abstinence should be emphasized in sex education as the "expected norm." It also allows districts to opt out entirely of sex education should they so choose.
The new bill creates a standard for sex education courses taught to students in grades 6-12 that supporters describe as medically accurate and age-appropriate. It still allows schools to opt out of teaching sex education and also allows parents to keep their children out of such lessons without penalty.
The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Heather Steans, told the Chicago Tribune the proposal requires schools to include information about abstinence as the only way to completely prevent pregnancy and disease, but it will also allow "students to make healthy decisions for themselves" by offering information on contraception as well as healthy relationships and boundary setting.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law, according to NBC Chicago.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois president and CEO Carole Brite applauded the Senate vote in a statement describing the bill as "a huge step forward in advancing the health and safety of young people in Illinois -- while they are teenagers and throughout their adult lives.”
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