The “comprehensive” sex education bill that we alerted you to in March has been re-written and re-introduced as HB 3027 and will soon be heard in the Illinois State Senate.
HB 3027 is completely unnecessary and an intrusion into local control. Public schools in Illinois already have the ability to teach “comprehensive” sex education if they wish. Local public school administrators do not need a mandate from Springfield telling them they must teach comprehensive sex education when the preponderance of evidence suggests that authentic abstinence education is successful.
Our own Laurie Higgins identifies a number of significant problems with the bill:
- HB 3027 requires that “course material and instruction shall place substantial emphasis on both abstinence… and contraception…” First, “substantial emphasis” is vague, ambiguous language open to interpretation, Second, typical “comprehensive sex ed” curricula give short shrift to abstinence teaching both in terms of amount of material and tone. Typical sex ed subordinates abstinence to contraception.
- Three different sections of HB 3027 require that sex education “material and instruction shall be developmentally and age appropriate, medically accurate, and complete.” The word “complete” is ambiguous and potentially opens the door to the inclusion of deeply problematic material. For those districts that want to teach about methods of contraception, the term “complete” is unnecessary in that elsewhere in the amendment is wording that requires contraception to be taught.
- HB 3027 defines important terms, but “abstinence” is not defined. What will students be taught to abstain from? Will they be taught to abstain from just vaginal intercourse — or will they be taught to abstain from all erotic interactions. Does abstinence education include abstaining from oral sex, mutual masturbation, anal sex, bestiality, and paraphilias?
What is “Comprehensive” Sex- Education?
“Comprehensive” or “Abstinence Plus” sex education refers to sex-education curricula that emphasize and encourage contraception use, rather than abstinence. In fact, a study of the most common “comprehensive” or “abstinence-plus” programs found that a mere 4.7 percent contained any reference to abstinence at all. (Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Authentic Abstinence: A Study of Competing Curricula by Shannan Martin, Robert Rector, and Melissa G. Pardue, Special Report, August 10, 2004.)
Moreover, the requirement that sex education material and instruction be “developmentally or age-appropriate” is problematic because there is no societal consensus on what constitutes developmentally and age-appropriate content.
SIECUS “Age-Appropriate” Guidelines for Sex Education The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States’ “Comprehensive Sexuality Education Guidelines” recommends teaching 5-8 year-olds about masturbation and homosexuality; teaching 9-12 year-olds about cross-dressing; and teaching 12-15 year-olds about abortion and sexual fantasies. (See IFI’s Addendum.)
SIECUS is the national go-to organization for content guidelines for comprehensive sex-ed curricula.
The evidence that comprehensive sex educators provide for their dismissal of abstinence education is poor. For example, they criticize abstinence curricula by saying that virginity pledges are ineffective. But virginity pledges do not constitute abstinence curricula. Virginity pledges are part of some abstinence curricula.
Comprehensive sex educators also assert that abstinence education is a failure because students who have been through abstinence programs are no more likely to be abstinent than are students who have been through comprehensive sex ed programs. The problem lies with the logic in this argument. If both groups of students are equally sexually active and, therefore, abstinence curricula are failures, then so too are comprehensive sex ed curricula failures.
Contraception-centered sex-education curricula encourage children and youth into early sexual experimentation. They mislead youth and create a false hope that condoms will provide sufficient protection from the physical, emotional and social consequences of early sexual activity. Authentic abstinence education programs provide youth with life and character skills, not condom skills. Sexual activity among youth is far too costly for adolescents, families, society and taxpayers.
Passing HB 3027 would mandate the teaching of curricula that most parents and taxpayers would find objectionable.