The Utah House has passed a bill that would allow schools to stop teaching sex education classes altogether, and prohibit those rogue schools that do teach it from giving any instruction on the use of contraception. The bill is the work of Rep. Bill Wright, a Republican, and you'll never guess what inspired him to propose such a backward measure… Ha, just kidding! Of course it was Planned Parenthood and their fiendish terrorist schemes to make all children into little whores.
You see Wright saw some materials put out by Planned Parenthood (that were undoubtedly filled with sexy sex words and lurid penis cartoons) being used as part of "maturation programs" at a few Utah schools. The horror! He also had the traumatic experience of having to watch a contraception slideshow developed by the State Office of Education that showed pictures and brands of condoms. Can you even imagine? Brands of condoms? I hope he's receiving some kind of counseling to help him process those deeply disturbing images.
Anyway, after having to contend with such unpleasantness himself, he decided he should spare the children of Utah from ever even having to hear the word sex—except from their peers and from the internet, obviously. Though it seems like maybe he's so sheltered that he doesn't even know about the internet. So, shhh! Let's not tell him because he will freak the fuck out.
Wright gallantly introduced HB363, which says that schools can drop sex ed all together, and if they want to keep it, it is basically just a class where children sit silently for the entire period because the teacher isn't really allowed to say anything other than, "Never have sex. It will melt your private parts and ruin your life." The bill passed by a 45-28 vote, but not before a long and thorny debate.
For his part, Wright made a pretty wild statement in support of the bill:
We've been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest. Why don't we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating? There is no evidence that it is nothing else.
How to get away with it? Someone should be honest with Wright and tell him that sex is not a crime—at least not yet—and that in fact it can be rather enjoyable if done correctly, which you would learn if you received some proper sex ed… Oh, I see where his problem lies. Anyway, it's true that sex outside of marriage is devastating—devastating because it is so awesome. Amiwright?
Thank goodness there was also some opposition to the bill, from all of the Democrats and some of the Republicans too. Democratic Rep. Brian King said,
We owe it to our sons and daughters and to their future partners not to stick our heads in the sand. In truth, few of us are up to the task of effectively teaching our kids ourselves the things they need to know about sex.
Speak for yourself, King! We are all born with all the sex knowledge we need to have, or so says Republican Rep. LaVar Christensen,"Maybe you've noticed that the world has figured out how to populate itself over thousands of years without sex education." I have definitely noticed that. You know what else I've noticed? That for thousands of years women (and often their partners) were saddled with unwanted pregnancies because for a variety of reasons they didn't have access to contraception and/or they didn't even know how a lady got pregnant. So it's not exactly a foolproof system. An owner's manual and some tools make things go a lot more smoothly.
After passing a series of amendments, the House ended up making the bill even more restrictive than it was when it came out of committee. Originally, it would have simply prohibited advocating contraception, but now it actively prevents teachers from instructing kids about "the use of contraceptive methods or devices." It also restricts teaching about "the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior," and homosexuality and sex outside of marriage are also off limits. Don't worry teachers are still allowed to respond to questions students ask—though Wright would prefer that teachers do that outside class because,
What I would not want to happen is that one student in 30 asks some pretty promiscuous questions and the teacher is forced to respond in front of the 29 other students.
Oh, you mean learning? Yes, that would be a terrible thing to have happening in a classroom. (Also, can someone explain how a question can be promiscuous?)
This bill has so many rules. How will they ever enforce it? Maybe they'll station an officer from the sex police in every classroom, or probably they'll just wait for some enraged parent to call the school and complain that somehow their teenage child found out about sex. And is this bill even necessary? Utah is already one of the most conservative states when it comes to sex education, and this would take it even farther back into the dark ages. Rep. Rebecca Edwards, a Republican, said there is already adequate control, and Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent made the point that parents currently have the choice over whether their child is put in sex ed. Plus, the existing law already prohibits promoting contraceptives and allows schools to choose whether they just stress abstinence or go abstinence-only. So it's not like there are a bunch of slutty videos and vagina fruit roll-ups being forced down children's throats as it is. But obviously that's now enough for Wright and his comrades.
So what began as one man's overreaction to Planned Parenthood teaching materials is now well on its way to becoming the law in Utah. Yay, democracy! The bill is heading to the Senate next. It's not yet clear how it will do there—though for reference the Senate has 22 Republicans and only seven Democrats. Though that doesn't necessarily guarantee passage of the bill as it is. In the meantime, in case it does get passed, sex ed teachers in Utah might want to try to cram as much information as they can into every class period. Just in case this ends up meaning that no one is ever allowed to say the word sex in a school again.
Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed [Salt Lake Tribune]
House passes abstinence-only sex ed bill [Daily Herald]
Utah House passes abstinence-only sex education bill [Deseret News]
Image by Jim Cooke. Original photos by Krzysztof Wiktor/Shutterstock