Education

House passes bill that would reverse procedures for how sex ed is taught in Idaho schools

Talk to your doctor about your sexual health

Talking about sex may not be a regular part of your doctor-patient relationship, but it should be. This can be especially true for adolescents and young adults who are disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Nearly hal
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Talking about sex may not be a regular part of your doctor-patient relationship, but it should be. This can be especially true for adolescents and young adults who are disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Nearly hal

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on March 6, 2019.

After an hourlong debate, the House voted along party lines Wednesday to pass a bill requiring parents to opt their children into any sex education courses offered in Idaho school.

Pushed by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, House Bill 120 would reverse the procedures for how sex education is taught in Idaho. Currently, Idaho law allows parents to opt their children out of sex education. Under Ehardt’s bill, students could not take sex education unless their parents specifically filled out paperwork to opt them in.

“HB 120 is about parental involvement in our children’s sexual content,” Ehardt said. “This bill is about consent, not about content.”

In committee and on the House floor, Ehardt and other supporters said that sex education courses stray from a strict, abstinence-only teachings and do not align with Idaho values. During her floor debate, Ehardt said sex ed courses normalize sexual behavior and include instructions for use of condoms.

However, opponents argued that requiring an opt-in program would create an bureaucratic and administrative hurdle that could result in far fewer students having access to information about sex education, their bodies and their reproductive systems. Opponents also argued that passing such as bill could endanger children that are abused by their parents — since abusive parents would seek to block access to information about sexual abuse, consent and the reproductive system.

“It is possible when kids are being abused, because of a lack of knowledge or information, they might not be able to identify what is happening to them,” said Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise.

During a Feb. 26 committee hearing, 18 of the 21 people who testified on the bill — including a number of high school students — all opposed its passage.

In the end, all 56 House Republicans voted in favor of the bill on Wednesday while all 14 Democrats opposed it.

HB 120 next heads to the Senate for consideration. Its first stop will likely be in the Senate Education Committee.

Warrantless arrests

A divided House passed a bill to allow police officers to arrest, without a warrant, a suspect in a threat against a school.

House Bill 209 stems from a March 2018 incident, involving an online threat against two Moscow schools. Absentee rates surged the day of the threats, and neighbors volunteered to provide armed protection at the schools. But a new state law governing online school threats would not allow officers to make an arrest. (More about the incident from the Moscow Daily News.)

“We should give them the full range of tools … to do their jobs,” said Rep. Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, the bill’s sponsor.

Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, lauded the bill’s intent but criticized its wording. By allowing warrantless arrests in a home, he said, the bill violated constitutional protections.

The bill passed, 47-22, and heads to the Senate.

(More Statehouse news: Immunization opt-in bill, guns-in-schools bill dead for session. Kevin Richert’s blog.)

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