03/17/2012 12:14 am ET Updated Aug 13, 2012

Utah Sex Education Bill To Teach Abstinence-Only Vetoed By Governor

By Bob Bernick

SALT LAKE CITY, March 16 (Reuters) - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday vetoed a controversial bill banning public schools from teaching contraception as a way of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill, which also sought to bar instruction on homosexuality or other aspects of human sexuality other than the teaching of abstinence, would have been the first of its kind in the nation if it had become law.

It had previously cleared Utah's Republican-controlled House and Senate, and Herbert was widely expected to sign it.

In vetoing the measure, dubbed HB 363, Herbert said that as a parent and grandparent he considered proper sex education in public schools an important component to the moral education youngsters receive at home.

"If HB 363 were to become law, parents would no longer have the option the overwhelming majority is currently choosing for their children. I am unwilling to conclude that the state knows better than Utah's parents as to what is best for their children," he said.

"In order for parents to take on more responsibility, they need more information, more involvement, and more choice-not less. I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice," he added.

Supporters of the bill argued that sex education was best left up to parents. (Editing by Tim Gaynor)