SALT LAKE CITY — Sex education took center stage at the Utah Legislature again Wednesday. But this time it revolved around teaching parents rather than students.
In a House bill requiring schools to hold an annual parents seminar on topics such as drug abuse, bullying and mental health, the Senate added “human sexuality” to the list.
The change touched off a House debate about whether talking to parents about sex is necessary.
“I have zero interest in going to a class to teach my children about human sexuality,” said Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.
Noting he has three children, Wilson said, “I figured it out.”
Maybe it’s the Senate, he said, that needs the instruction.
The Legislature found parents “up to the task” of teaching their children about sex with passage of the abstinence-only law for public schools, Wilson said. That bill restricts school sex education courses to abstinence-only or nothing.
“Now, we’re turning around and saying maybe we’re not,” he said.
Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said he proposed HB420 to give parents the chance to obtain information about issues facing young people.
The House passed the bill last week and the Senate amended it Wednesday to include human sexuality.
“Is this for those of us who missed the ninth-grade maturation meeting?” said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville.
Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said what he knew in ninth-grade doesn’t completely cover what he needs to know today.
“It’s voluntary. It’s for adults taught by adults. Don’t go if you don’t want to,” he said, adding some parents might want the information.
Eliason noted that 90 percent of parents opted for their children to take sex education in school.
“That is now not going to an option for them,” he said referring to the abstinence-only bill. “Parents before have said we need help with this.”
In the end, the House voted 38-37 to not concur with the Senate “human sexuality” amendment and asked it to remove the change.