By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – New legislation to replace the Healthy Youth Act – the controversial Comprehensive Sex Education bill – was introduced Wednesday in the Senate’s Mental Health and Youth Services Committee.
The proposed committee substitute would mandate that every public school student first complete the Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) curriculum according to the same guidelines included in our present Abstinence Until Marriage statute. The proposed committee substitute adds a new requirement to the statute, mandating that all students would also be offered Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE). However, parents who don’t want their children to learn CSE can opt them out through an appropriate mechanism developed by each school district.
“This is a compromise bill and it is by no means perfect,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, who argued against the League opposing the measure. “It does address a number of our concerns, among them the importance of keeping Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) as the State’s standard for students.”
As originally filed, House Bill 88 would have created a two-track system whereby parents could choose either AUM or CSE, with a built-in automatic default that would place students whose parents didn’t choose a sex education curriculum into comprehensive sex education. This version of the bill was deplorable because of the automatic default to CSE, and because students would be taught respect for “committed relationships” on the same footing as marriage.
After much debate in the House, the bill was amended to create a three-track system offering parents a choice among AUM, CSE or no sex-education at all. Under the House version of the bill the default for students whose parents didn’t express a preference would be for them to not be enrolled in any sex-education at all. Amendments also stripped the requirement to teach respect for “committed relationships,” leaving the requirement to teach respect for marriage.
Unfortunately, when the measure went over to the Senate, it was clear that the improved bill would not be passed and proposals were made to go back to the original version, making CSE the default choice.
Considering the current political climate of the General Assembly, the Rev. Creech said the latest bill – requiring Abstinence Until Marriage be taught to all students and then offering Comprehensive Sex Education to those whose parents don’t opt out – is likely the best version that conservative Christians can hope for.
“With all its faults, this bill would insure that every child will get an authentic abstinence message,” said the Rev. Creech. “Second, abstinence would not be supplanted by Comprehensive sex-education as the standard by default, which would have relegated abstinence to some inferior status in teaching kids about sex – treating it like the red-headed step-child of sex education. Instead it keeps an authentic abstinence message at the forefront and as a priority for all North Carolina’s children. Moreover, it provides a mechanism to opt out to parents who either for religious or other objections find comprehensive sex-education to be unacceptable for their children.”
The AUM curriculum calls for students to be taught that “Abstinence from sexual activity until marriage is the only certain means of avoiding out of wedlock pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases ….and a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding diseases transmitted by sexual contact including AIDS and HIV.”
Creech said he appreciated the sensitivity the Senate showed for our concerns in the proposed committee substitute. “I also recognize its drawbacks,” he said. “It includes Comprehensive Sex Ed, which we reject. But in every bill previously put forward by both the House and Senate, it was quite clear CSE was going to be a part of the equation and the probability of its passage was strong. Let’s not forget that only a few weeks ago the Senate passed the pro-homosexual bullying bill. If they’ll pass such a bullying bill, they’ll pass legislation that supplants AUM with CSE as the State’s standard. At least this bill doesn’t do that – every child will get AUM and parents who don’t like CSE can opt their child out. If we cannot keep the current law on sex education, there is no better alternative. This is the reason I believe opposing the revised version of HB 88 will likely result in a greater loss for our side.”
The bill was calendared to be heard on the Senate floor on Thursday, but was rescheduled to be taken up on Tuesday of next week.