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Nevada Comprehensive Sex Education Bill Exempted from Consideration Due to State’s Fiscal Deficit

A bill introduced in the Nevada Assembly on April 1, 2011, would have required public schools to teach medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education, including discussion of contraception. Supporters of the bill, A.B. 314, argue that current programs have been ineffective in lowering teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in Nevada, which has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.[1] The bill was exempted from this legislative session because of its projected cost to the state, but will likely be back on the table next session.
 
Current Nevada law requires local school boards to “establish a course or a unit of a course” that teaches about AIDS, the human reproductive system, STDs, and “sexual responsibility.”[2] However, such instruction cannot be offered as a graduation requirement. In addition, parents and guardians must offer written consent for their child to receive the instruction.[3]
 
A.B. 314 would require that all Nevada public schools teach a course or a unit of a course on sex education. The curriculum would be chosen by the board of trustees of each school district, but all districts would have to include instruction on AIDS, HIV, and other STDs along with the safety and effectiveness of any STD tests and treatments; dating violence; and the safety, effectiveness, and side effects of contraceptive methods.[4] Each curriculum would also have to emphasize “the benefits of abstinence from sexual intercourse.”[5] Additionally, the law would change parental consent for sex education courses from an “opt in” to an “opt out” policy: instead of needing affirmative written consent to take the course, all students would be enrolled unless their parent or guardian chose to remove them from instruction.
 
Assemblymember David Bobzien (D–24th District), a co-sponsor of the bill, argues that lack of state guidance in sex education is a serious problem in Nevada, and that the information students receive across the state is inconsistent. He said the bill “would bring the subject in line with all the other things we teach the schools, like science, health and math.”[6]
 
Adding dating violence to the curriculum is also a crucial step. Nevada leads the nation in women killed by their partners, and 10% of students report seeing violence in their relationships.[7] Under A.B. 314, all districts would have to teach how to identify, prevent, and avoid dating violence, as well as how students who experience dating violence can get help. Sue Meuschke, executive director of the Nevada Network against Domestic Violence, said that incorporating dating violence in public school curricula is “the only chance we have of changing attitudes about violence and relationships,”
 
On April 15, the Education Committee referred the bill to the Ways and Means Committee, but the bill became exempt for budgetary reasons before it was scheduled for hearing. A.B. 314 had a fiscal note projecting a $15,000 cost to the state for assembling a team to standardize the new requirements.[8] Because of Nevada’s deficit, all bills with fiscal notes were declared exempt from this legislative session. 
 
   


[1]“New bill could revamp sex ed in Nevada,” ABC 13 Action News Las Vegas, 8 April 2011, accessed 27 May 2011, <http://www.ktnv.com/story/14411972/new-bill-could-revamp-sex-ed-in-nevada>.
[2] Nev. Rev. Stat. § 389.065(1)(a)-(b).
[3] Nev. Rev. Stat. § 389.065(4).
[4] Ibid., 2–5.
[5] Ibid., 3.
[6] Chris Ciarlo, “Lawmakers Consider Changes to Sex Ed,” CBS 2 News Reno-Tahoe, 8 April 2011, accessed 27 May 2011, <http://www.ktvn.com/story/14413360/lawmakers-consider-changes-to-sex-ed?clienttype=printable>.
[7] Cassandra Duvall, “Bill Proposes to Add Dating Violence Lessons to Sex Ed,” NBC 4 News Reno, 11 April 2011, accessed 6 June 2011, <http://www.mynews4.com/story.php?id=40696>.
[8] Ibid.

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