Republicans in the Senate approve a bill that would require schools to promote abstinence in sex education classes as the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Democrats call the measure irresponsible. The bill essentially repeals the so-called “Healthy Youth Act” signed into law last year when Democrats had the majority in the legislature. That legislation mandates “age-appropriate comprehensive sex education.”
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) opposes the Republican changes. “This is such a 19th Century mentality piece of legislation. We should be walking around in the Victorian Age with legislation like this. It’s embarrassing.” He says kids know a lot more than most adults these days. Fred Risser (D-Madison) calls the bill “extremely shortsighted.” He describes it as “stick-your-end-in-the-sand” legislation.
State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) says her bill gives schools more leeway; it allows school districts, with an advisory committee, to design their own curriculum. Lazich says it is “small government at its best,” saying “This is about local control. This bill does not prohibit any teaching at all as it relates to human growth and development or comprehensive sex ed or abstinence sex ed.”
Lazich’s bill eliminates a state mandate on specifics, and allows districts to decide for themselves. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) doesn’t like that inconsistency. “This bill is gonna move us in a direction of teaching children one thing in one part of the state and another thing in another part of the state.”
Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) says the question is whether kids will learn about sex from school or from “a Google search” or “a Kim Kardashian reality TV show.”
The bill promotes the benefits of marriage and emphasizes abstinence to prevent pregnancy and disease. It passed 17-15 along party lines and now goes to the Assembly.