A bill to allow Utah schools to drop sex education classes — and prohibit instruction in the use of contraception in those that keep the courses — moved significantly closer to becoming law Wednesday. The House passed HB363 by a 45-28 vote after a late-afternoon debate that centered largely on lawmakers’ differing definitions of morality.
"We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest," said bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden. "Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?"
It was a viewpoint that met with equal conviction from those opposed to the bill.
"You cannot speak of abstinence without talking to students about methods of birth control that are not certain, about protecting oneself from [sexually transmitted diseases] and all the things that can happen in a negative sense to a young person who engages in sex ," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay. "It’s really immoral not to teach kids about what the consequences are."
Over the course of nearly an hour, lawmakers took turns trying to change the bill. Ultimately, the version the House passed would allow school districts to forgo teaching about sex altogether.
Lawmakers also, however, changed the bill on the House floor to prohibit schools that continue to teach sex education from instructing students in "the use of contraceptive methods or devices." It was a change from the version that passed out of committee earlier this month that would have prohibited "instruction in the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices."