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Sex Ed Opt-In Bill Draws Criticism In Idaho House Committee

Emilie Ritter Saunders
Boise State Public Radio

A bill that would require parents to opt-in their kids to sex education got significant pushback Tuesday morning.

Right now, parents have the option of reviewing sex ed materials before their child attends a class and can opt them out if they choose.

The proposal from Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) would send a permission slip home within two weeks of the class to ensure parents want their kids to go through sex ed.

Ehardt repeatedly referred to a program offered through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which is used in 17 schools across the state.

The curriculum includes teaching teenagers about contraceptives like condoms, as well as abstinence, to prevent pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.

“Silly me, I was only taught there was one way to avoid pregnancy and that was pure abstinence. The values taught in this program do not align with Idaho values,” Ehardt says.

“This is so far beyond biology and reproduction and we are venturing into shaping views and behaviors.”

Nearly all of those who testified opposed the bill. Isabella Hill, a sophomore at Boise High School, says requiring parents to opt their kids in could have the opposite effect of what supporters say – namely higher rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

“Withholding this information often won’t stop young people from having sex, but it will make it more likely for them to be unprepared and unsafe,” Hill says.

Hill, and other young people involved with Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council joined many others in asking the committee to vote down the bill.

Only three groups supported it, including the Family Policy Alliance of Idaho and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise.

The House Education Committee expects to vote on the bill Friday.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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