Sex-Ed Bill in Springfield Would Outlaw Abstinence Programs
Sex-Ed Bill in Springfield Would Outlaw Abstinence Programs
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SENATE BILL 1619, sponsored by State Senator Heather A. Steans (D-Chicago), is a legislative proposal that would create a so-called “Personal Responsibility Education Program Act.” This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Health Committee at the State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, March 8th at 1:00pm.


SB 1619 mandates that all elementary and secondary public schools that offer sex education or sexual health education programs must choose only programs from a list of curricula approved by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The affect of this would be to shut out all abstinence education programs that focus on abstaining from sex until marriage and that stress character-building. Abstinence education programs aimed at older age-groups have research-based and well-documented information on what sexually transmitted diseases are and how they are contracted as well as teen STD statistics.

The only approved curricula would be so-called “comprehensive sex education” programs which include condom-training, teaching “tolerance”(i.e. approval) of homosexual lifestyles; various ways of sexual self-gratification; condom usage; information on how to be close to a person without having intercourse, including “body massage, bathing together, masturbation, sensuous feeding, fantasizing, watching erotic movies, and reading erotic books and magazines [from Focus on Kids – ages 9-15].” Another program for adolescents, “Be Proud Be Responsible,” states, “Go to the store together. Buy lots of different brands and colors [of condoms]. Plan a special day when you can experiment. Just talking about how you’ll use all of those condoms can be a turn on” (80). [Emphasis added.]

SB 1619 states that approved curricula must be “medically accurate and developmentally and age appropriate.” It also states that “medically accurate” means “verified or supported by the weight of research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and published in peer-reviewed journals…or comprising information that leading professional organizations [like Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute]….” Despite the fact that abstinence education programs are both medically accurate and supported by sound research, the pro-comprehensive sex ed proponents reject them for ideological reasons, and it is their voices that the Department of Human Services will hear.

Additionally, the so-called “peer-reviewed journals” refuse to publish articles that provide evidence that abstinence education is more effective than “comprehensive sex ed,” so there will be no peer-review reviewed journal articles to support abstinence programs. The system is rigged to keep abstinence programs off the list of possible choices even though they are more effective in stopping and/or preventing sexual activity in young people than comprehensive sex ed programs.

Recently, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reported that abstinence is on the rise, saying that “in 2006-2008, 29 percent of women and 27 percent of men ages 15 to 24 reported not having any sexual contact compared with 22 percent in 2002.” This only reinforces the claim that students can keep commitments to sexual purity.

SB 1619 also states that program “instruction must be free from bias in accordance with the Illinois Human Rights Act.” Thus, the approved programs will be those that focus on “tolerance,” that is, approval, of homosexuality — one of the bases for a protected class in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The bill also removes “until marriage” in the requirement that all sex education courses teach “abstinence until marriage.” There are two purposes behind this change. First, since homosexuals in Illinois cannot marry, some argue that teaching abstinence until marriage is “discriminatory” and in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Second, by leaving in just the word “abstinence,” the law allows for teaching that abstinence need only be maintained until some other criterion is met (e.g., until “the second date,” or until “he says he cares about you”). Because of their biases, SB 1619 proponents want to eliminate the long-standing and explicit commitment of the State of Illinois to “abstinence until marriage.”

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