Sex-Education Measures Advance

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Spurred in part by concern over the spread of aids and continuing high rates of teen-age pregnancy, bills mandating statewide sex education have made progress in four legislatures this year.

In Georgia, Gov. Joe Frank Harris is expected to sign a measure approved this month by the House and Senate that would require all school districts to offer a sex-education curriculum by July 1, 1989.

Similar 'Values' Provisions

In Virginia, as of late last week, lawmakers had defeated several amendments that would have weakened a proposed statewide family-life curriculum.

South Carolina lawmakers are trying to narrow the differences between sex-education bills passed by both chambers of the legislature in this session.

And in Kentucky, the Senate is set to review a sex-education bill already passed by the House.

All of the proposed mandates include provisions or features that would stress the teaching of sexual abstinence before marriage. And each maintains some flexibility for districts to incorporate "local values'' into coursework.

Local Guidance Sought

Currently, only six states--Delaware, Rhode Island, Nevada, Kansas, New Jersey, and Maryland--and the District of Columbia have mandated sex education on a statewide basis.

The Georgia plan would require districts to offer a program at least as stringent as a sex-education curriculum to be developed by the state education department by July.

The House also added a provision to the final bill that would prohibit the use of state funds or the involvement of school personnel or school grounds in the provision of contraceptives or abortion counseling.

In South Carolina, lawmakers are debating a provision in the House's version of the sex-education bill that would prohibit any discussion of homosexuality except in negative terms.

Both chambers of the South Carolina legislature passed measures that would require local officials, in cooperation with the community, to determine at what grades the courses would be taught.

Both bills would also give parents the right to remove their children from classes that involve discussions about sexually transmitted diseases.

Debate in Virginia

Lawmakers in Virginia, meanwhile, have turned back several attempts to weaken a comprehensive sex-education plan for all grades that was developed by the state board of education.

The legislature has already earmarked $5.5 million for the program. (See Education Week, Jan. 27, 1987.)

Observers noted last week, however, that several more attempts to amend the program might be made before the session ended. Lawmakers were scheduled to conclude the session late last week.

The Kentucky bill awaiting action by the Senate would require all districts to develop a curriculum for instruction on human reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the benefits of abstinence. The measure would authorize local committees to develop the programs, which in turn would have to be approved by the state education department.

In addition, parents would have the right to inspect instructional materials, and to withdraw their children in grades 7 through 12 from the classes.

Vol. 07, Issue 25

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