Legislation which requires consistency and accuracy when sex education is taught around the state received a public hearing at the Capitol on Thursday. Senate Education Committee member, Waunakee Democrat Jon Erpenbach, believes the measure is needed. “There is a real crisis in this state, when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases,” said Erpenbach. “So kids need to know about. I talk to my kids about it, but they need to hear it from someone other than me, and they need to hear it over and over again. That’s the only way they’re going to get this.”
There was plenty of opposition to the bill. Anne Franczyk of Milwaukee testified against the legislation. “The Bible says woe to those who lead little ones astray,” said Francyk. “It warns against teaching people into sexual immorality, and these comprehensive programs are in essence teaching kids how to engage in sexual immorality.” Franczyk said there’s too little focus on abstinence in the bill, which is known the Healthy Youth Act. One of the bill’s stated goals is a reduction in teen pregnancy and STDs, but Franzck said the legislation would undermine parental authority and local control. “It’s a very dangerous bill,” she said.
Madison pediatrician, Doctor Patricia Quigley, worries that students are not receiving adequate or accurate information on human sexuality. Quigley related a conversation she had with a 12 or 13 year-old patient. “She was telling me about a recent sexual encounter with her partner. (The) condom fell off, they couldn’t find it. It was found during a pelvic exam in my clinic, a couple of weeks later. She didn’t even know where to look.”
Fifteen year-old Christy Gahlke of Oostburg testified against the legislation. “With this new bill will come the requirement that teachers cannot have a bias about staying pure until marriage,” she said, reading from a written statement. “It will force the teachers to teach children of all ages that homosexuals and lesbians are perfectly fine for our society.”
The legislation would allow parents to keep their kids out of the sex ed class, and schools could opt out of the curriculum, but as New Berlin Republican, Senator Luther Olson learned, that doesn’t satisfy Christy’s mom, Sherry Gahlke. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate to teach these things. I’m talking about how to use a condom,” she told Olson. “I understand what you’re talking about,” replied Olson. “So, you’re saying you don’t want schools to teach it no matter, what. Which isn’t in front of us today,” to which Gahlke replied, “right.” The Gahlke’s are home schoolers.
The Healthy Youth Act (SB 324), authored by Milwaukee Democrats, Senator Lena Taylor and Representative Tamara Grigsby, was introduced a month ago, and has already received a public hearing before an Assembly committee.