In America, sex education has long been a topic of much controversy. How young is too young to learn about the birds and the bees? How should such information be taught? What should the school teach, and what should be left to the parents? There are no definitive answers to these questions, and if you ask ten different people where they stand on the subject, you’ll get ten different opinions. However, Ohio is attempting new measures to make some very clear rules regarding public school sex education, along with some very serious consequences for breaking those rules.
The new bill. Ohio state’s House of Representatives recently proposed a new, two-year budgeting bill that would instate some major changes in regards to not only sex education in Ohio, but also family planning. In addition to cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and, instead, placing that funding in pregnancy crisis centers run by Christian organizations, the bill would place heavy restrictions on what sex education teachers can teach, and how, and would impose a considerable fine ($5000, to be exact) on educators who step out of line in regards to sex education.
No sex allowed. So, what does this proposed sex education plan look like? Basically, it is sex education without the sex. Proponents of the new bill assert that teachers should deliver lessons in sex education with a very clear message: abstinence is the only way to go. This means that any message, either direct or indirect, that alludes to sex outside of marriage being either natural or acceptable, is a message educators are forbidden from delivering. Additionally, schools and teachers are not allowed to recruit sex education organizations to teach programs that in any way advocate a healthy relationship with sex outside of marriage. Of course, the dispersal of contraceptives (a common practice in high school sex education classes) is also strictly forbidden.
What does sex education have to do with a budget reform bill? That’s a good question. The issue has some Democratic representatives up in arms. Chris Redfern, Ohio state Democratic Chairman, was quoted in the Toledo Blade as saying that this proposition is an attempt to ban sexuality altogether and deliver Ohio back into the “Dark Ages.” Redfern argues that the House committee could be a lot more productive if they could get over issues like this, which are not relevant to the big budget picture.
Is this proposed bill one giant step backwards? When you compare the statistics (pertaining to things like STDs, unplanned pregnancies, abortions, and teenage pregnancies) between progressive places like the Netherlands and oppressive places like this proposed version of Ohio, it’s plain to see that putting such restrictions on sex education is not only a step backwards, but a dangerous one at that. Only time will tell if the new bill is to be approved. Until then, we can only hope that our next generation somehow gets the information it needs to empower itself to healthy decisions regarding sex.
About the Author: Wesley Davidson is conflicted about sex ed in schools and thinks it is starting too young; but he doesn’t think teachers should be fined for teaching the truth. He has one student in 6th grade and another in college and is always searching sites like slugbooks.com for educational materials.