A bill that would have made sexual education in public schools an ‘opt-in’ program failed to move forward in a Senate Education Committee Wednesday.
SB 673, authored by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), would have required permission slips filled out by parents to allow children to go to sex ed classes up through the sixth grade.
Supporters of the bill demanded choice on how sex would be brought up to children, concern with how some aspects of sex and sexually transmitted diseases were presented, and wanted more parental review on sex ed being taught in classrooms. Many supporters, including parents and religious leaders, also demonstrated outside the Capitol Building Wednesday morning before the vote.
“Over the last two years, I’ve heard from parents all over our state who have voiced concerns about the content of the new sex education curriculum,” stated Senator Morrell before the vote. “They’ve shared with me their view that much of what’s available for young students is unsuitable and indecent.”
After nearly a year of SB 673 being bounced around vote dates, committee meetings, and other delays, the committee finally voted 5 to 2 against the bill, voting strictly on party lines.
“My friends across the aisle voted it all down,” said Senator Morrell after the vote. “Apparently they want to cut parents out of the loop. They say it is unnecessary to post everything. Kind of amazing to me.”
A source in the Capitol Building, ‘Dana’, noted that many supporters did not take the news of the defeat lightly.
“There were a lot of emails and calls coming in to different staffs after that,” explained Dana. “For people who say they want the best for their children they sure do swear loudly.”
Many health officials, women’s groups, educator groups, and teacher unions supported the decision, saying that early basic sexual education is a crucial base for future education on the subject, that sex education has lowered STD and teenage pregnancy rates, and note that parents can still opt-out their kids if they so choose. It should be noted however that despite an over declination of STD rates over several decades, STD cases have recently spiked in California and have seen their highest rates in the state in thirty years.
“We believe that school districts should have the flexibility to provide instruction appropriate for their students, and that the current law provides parents the opportunity to opt out of sexual health instruction should they choose to do so,” stated a representative for the California Federation of Teachers, a state teachers union.
Despite the defeat on Wednesday, Senator Morrell has vowed to bring similar legislation in coming sessions with the intent of “giving parents more control over how their children are taught about sex education” in California public schools.