The Wisconsin State Senate passed legislation Wednesday mandating that school districts, teachers and parents be given the freedom to choose sex education curriculum that highlights abstinence and marriage over a comprehensive approach that highlights contraception.
The bill, which passed along party lines 17-15, would amend a state bill passed last year. A Democratic majority had approved legislation requiring schools to mandate a comprehensive human growth and development (sex education) curriculum that discusses contraceptives as an equally effective option at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases to abstinence for all sexual activity.
While the legislation allows parents to review their school district’s human growth and development curriculum and choose to opt their children out of the subject matter, such curriculum goes against the beliefs of many Christian parents.
Additionally, Barbara Sella, associate director for Respect Life and Social Concerns campaign of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, said children who have opted out of comprehensive sex education are not taught hygiene and human physiology – both vital subjects.
"We are trying to back away from the bill passed last year that we feel mandated sex education that was too nonjudgmental, too explicit and at too young an age," state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-Dist. 20) told Fox News.
The bill that passed the Senate and is supported by WCC mandates that “abstinence from sexual activity” be presented as the “only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases” in sex education classes.
Additionally, Sella said the bill gives school districts and teachers the right to choose an abstinence only approach to human growth and development based on parents’ wishes.
“What we wanted to say is it’s not up to the state to teach one [type] of sex education. No, there are other paths,” she told The Christian Post.
In opposition, Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (Dist. 27) told Fox News teaching abstinence is akin to going "back to the Flintstone era."
Meanwhile, Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, denounced sex education curriculums that attempt to normalize teen sex.
“By [normalizing teen sex in school curriculums], they are ignoring the data that shows that most teens are not ‘doing it,’ ignoring the evidence showing that abstinence education is effective, and ignoring the value and importance of sexual risk avoidance,” Huber said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post.
Almost 75 percent of Americans aged 15-17 have never had sex, she said. “Teens deserve the information and skills necessary to reinforce those good decisions – and to encourage those percentages [of abstinent teens] upward,” Huber stressed.
The latest bill would also mandate teachers to give instruction about parenting and the positive socioeconomic benefits of marriage. Sella said this part of the bill is very important because “we increasingly forget that marriage is the safest place to raise children.”
She added, “It is so important to teach what sociologists tell us: the best way to get out of poverty and stay out of poverty is to be married.”
Huber commended Wisconsin Republicans for taking a stand for abstinence and marriage.
“We also hope that this legislation can provide a model for other states to follow,” she praised.