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Politics & Government

Sex Ed Opt-In Bill Clears Idaho House Committee

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) has attempted to require families opt their children into taking sex education classes at public schools. They can currently opt-out of these classes.

House lawmakers could soon debate a bill that would require parents to opt-in their kids for sex education at public schools. It passed out of a committee Monday morning on a party line vote.

The bill from Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) would only allow kids to receive basic anatomy lessons for sex-ed, unless their parent gives them permission to take an expanded human sexuality class. Right now, they can opt-out their children from these classes.

Ehardt said a push to change what’s taught in sex education is “about to hit Idaho” – something she wants to prevent.

“It teaches minors about sexual pleasure, masturbation, anal and oral sex, how to solicit consent for sexual activity,” she said. “It encompasses topics that are extremely sensitive and often conflict with religious and personal views.”

Ehardt said it should be up to parents to decide what their kids learn. She warns some kids across the country are learning things that may clash with their parents’ values.

“When left to the devices of the teachers, we are finding out a lot of strange things are happening at these schools starting as early as kindergarten and first grade.”

But local school boards approve what curriculum is taught in Idaho schools, not teachers.

Nearly everyone who testified opposed the bill.

Matilda Gaddi, a high school senior, said this information is vital for kids to learn from reliable sources.

“Because I wasn’t taught enough about sexual orientation and sex education as it pertains to same-sex relations I had to rely on the internet and sources that weren’t credible, such as porn, to answer my questions,” Gaddi said.

Keeping kids in the dark, she said, could lead to higher STI rates. Others who testified against the bill said this bill could also spur higher teen pregnancy rates.

Ehardt has introduced similar bills over the past two years. One passed the House in 2019, while last year’s effort never made it out of committee.

House lawmakers will consider the bill next.

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

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