By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Lawmakers have given their stamp of approval to a sex education bill that would channel seventh-through ninth-graders through the Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) curriculum as well as a Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) program that includes instruction about how to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), all FDA-approved methods of contraception, and sexual abuse and domestic violence. It also includes a provision allowing parents to opt their children out of the Comprehensive Sex Education subdivision and renames North Carolina’s current sex education program as the Reproductive Health and Safety Education program.
The latest version of House Bill 88 — the Healthy Youth Act — passed the Senate Tuesday and, after less than a half-hour of debate on Thursday, the House voted 60-55 for concurrence.
“As we said when the bill came out of committee, it is far from perfect and we did not endorse it,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “But it does keep Abstinence Until Marriage as the State’s expected standard for all students. It will keep an authentic Abstinence message before every child in North Carolina. Comprehensive sex education does not supplant Abstinence and parents who find Comprehensive sex education objectionable may opt their child out. This is a bittersweet end. I hate Comprehensive sex education and would that we could have kept the current system of teaching only Abstinence. But I am pleased that in this political climate which is tipped decidedly to the left with those who are determined to relegate Abstinence to an inferior way to teach kids about sex and even ultimately to remove it altogether, our voices helped preserve Abstinence for every child and provided an escape hatch for parents who recognize the dangers in Comprehensive sex education.”
“This bill has taken a long and circuitous route back to us. And it stands to reason that if all of the sides involved in this bill are still a little bit unhappy, then we may have made some progress,” said Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), the bill’s primary sponsor.
During debate on the measure in the House, Rep. W.A. “Winkie” Wilkins (D-Person) said that he realized that there was considerable opposition to any form of Comprehensive Sex Education coming to the schools, but he described what he called the “flip side of this coin.”
“My county is one of 10 in the state that has had a Comprehensive sex ed curriculum in place for seven or eight years,” said Rep. Wilkins. “What the compromise bill does in my county is to add the Abstinence Until Marriage component. That component is not at this moment present in my county. It will be if we concur.” With this statement, Rep. Wilkins makes it clear one of the merits of the new law – counties that are currently teaching only Comprehensive Sex Education must also teach students Abstinence Until Marriage.
Though more popular in the Senate (final vote 25-21), the bill faced some opposition in Tuesday’s vote as well. As in the House, there was discussion of whether the opt-out procedure should be an opt-in, whereby the burden would be on schools to obtain parental permission before teaching a child the advanced or “comprehensive” portion of the required instruction. But a proposed amendment to that effect did not pass.
In fact, Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) sent forth the only successful amendment to the bill in which he specified certain aspects regarding sexually transmitted diseases, such as rates of infection and effects of contracting each illness, that should be taught.
The new law will take effect with the 2010-2011 school years.
Rev. Creech urged parents to be on the lookout for opportunities to view sex education curricula adopted for their children’s schools and to opt out of any with objectionable material or components that do not advocate Abstinence until Marriage (AUM).
“This is an area where parents must be truly vigilant to guard their children’s hearts and minds more than ever,” he said. “Don’t be put off by educational bywords. Keep asking questions until you know for sure what is going to be taught.”
For more about HB 88 – The Healthy Youth Act read the Christian Action League’s previous story: Revised Sex Ed Bill Passes Panel