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Sex Education Policy in the 2013 State Legislative Sessions

Sex Education Policy in the 2013 State Legislative Sessions

Numerous bills related to sex education were considered in the 2013 state legislative sessions across the country. Momentous bills were passed in Colorado and Illinois, expanding access to comprehensive sex education. Several other states introduced sex education and reproductive rights legislation, though most of these became mired in the legislative process.  The following provides a summary of the status of legislation impacting sexuality education as those states with time specific legislative sessions have adjourned for 2013.


Arizona

Arizona’s Senate Bill (SB) 1359 and House Bill (HB) 2506 sought to revise the state’s current sex education policy, requiring school districts to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically-accurate sex education.[1] In the bill, comprehensive sexuality education is defined as an evidence-based program that provides information on human development, healthy relationships, decision?making, abstinence, contraception, and disease prevention.[2] The bill would also offer parents or guardians the opportunity to opt their child(ren) out of sex education, which would change the state’s current opt-in policy. The bills were referred to the Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee and the House Education Committee, respectively, but neither advanced to consideration.[3]


Arkansas

Arkansas’ SB 818 would have cut off state funding to any organization that provides abortions or refers patients to abortion providers. While not explicitly targeting Planned Parenthood, the bill’s implementation would have eliminated HIV and other sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention programs delivered by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas public high schools. On May 17, 2013, with 18 yea votes needed for passage, SB 818 failed by a 17 – 9 vote.[4]


Colorado

Colorado’s HB 1081 was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on May 28, 2013. House Bill 1081 created a sexuality education grant program in the Department of Public Health and Environment. The new comprehensive sex education program created under this law requires participating school districts and public schools to implement evidence-based, medically-accurate, and age-appropriate sexual health education curricula.[5] The measure allows parents or guardians to opt their child(ren) out of any programs created under the bill.[6] More information about the new law is available in SIECUS’ May 2013 Policy Update, Colorado Passes Bill to Provide Grants for Schools to Implement Sex Education.


Georgia

Georgia’s resolution HR 914 requests “support for reproductive freedom of choice and family planning and [recognizes] the need for state and federal funds to facilitate a safer environment for mothers and children and for other purposes.”[7] The resolution recognizes the need for federal and state funding for reproductive health services including family care, counseling services, and comprehensive and medically-accurate sexuality education.  The resolution also states that access to family planning, counseling, and care would subsequently make abortions rare.[8] The bill did not advance in 2013 but will carry over into the 2014 legislative session.


Hawaii

Hawaii’s comprehensive sex education bills, SB 389 and its companion, HB 399, introduced in January, would require that state funded sexual health programs provide medically-accurate, age-appropriate, and fact-based education that includes healthy relationship and communication skills building.[9] The Senate bill was referred to the Health and Education Committee, but did not advance. The House bill, however, was passed out of the Hawaii State House on March 5, 2013. The bill is currently pending in the Senate conference committee and will carry over into the next legislative session.

In addition to new comprehensive sex education legislation, Senate concurrent resolution SCR 77 requested that sexual health education be taught uniformly across Hawaii’s public schools.[10] The Senate Committee on Education passed the resolution out of committee, sending it to the Committee on Ways and Means, where it did not advance.


Illinois 

The Illinois state legislature passed sexual health education curriculum bills HB 2675 and SB 2354 on May 22, 2013. The legislation allows school districts to select and implement comprehensive sexual education curricula that best fit their schools and community.[11] Parents can review the curriculum and opt their child(ren) out of the classes.[12] Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed the bill into law on August 16, 2013.[13]


Indiana

Indiana’s SB 454 would overhaul Indiana’s current abstinence focused sex education policy, requiring state accredited schools to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically-accurate, and culturally-sensitive sexual health education. The bill would provide parents and guardians an opportunity to review the curriculum as well as the opportunity to opt their child(ren) out of sex education.[14] SB 454 was referred to the Committee on Education and Career Development, but did not advance.[15]


Kentucky

Kentucky’s SB 31 would require that public schools that offer sexuality education provide scientific, medically-accurate, evidence-based, and age-appropriate information; however, the bill would not require that public schools provide sexuality education.[16] The legislation would allow parents or guardians the opportunity to review the curriculum upon request, and opt their child(ren) out of the program. Additionally, SB 31 would require that any programs utilizing state funding for sex education and adolescent pregnancy prevention adopt a science-based curriculum. The bill was referred to, but was not considered by, the Committee on Education.[17]


Massachusetts

Multiple bills related to sex education remain in the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education at the conclusion of the 2013 session. The first of these, HB 421, would implement evidence-based, age-appropriate, and medically-accurate sexuality education curricula in public schools. The bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health to compile a list of evidence-based curricula that is consistent with the federal Office of Adolescent Health evidence-based program models.[18]

Also currently residing in the Joint Committee on Education are companion bills HB 366 and SB 202 that would require that sexual health education be age appropriate and medically accurate. The bills mandate that parents be notified about any human sexuality instruction and given the option to opt their child(ren) out.[19]

Additionally referred to the Joint Committee Education were sex education bills HB 450 and SB 209, which would require school districts to provide comprehensive, medically-accurate, and age-appropriate sexual health education consistent with the Massachusetts comprehensive health curriculum framework. Under this legislation, the DESE would be required to compile a list of sex education curricula to comply with the state’s curriculum framework. The list of curricula would be made available online, along with a process for parents or guardians to report any deviations from the approved standard.[20]

Finally, HB 388 would require that health education be age appropriate, medically accurate, and evidence based. The legislation would also require health curricula that focus on violence prevention and would require the commissioner of the DESE to submit a report on the provision of health education by school districts to the legislature. Also in the Joint Committee on Education, HB 388 is eligible for Executive Session.[21]

The Massachusetts Legislature meets throughout the year, so all of the above bills are eligible for further consideration.


Minnesota

Minnesota’s SB 451, a comprehensive sex education bill, was introduced on February 14, 2013. Senate Bill 451 would require the establishment of “responsible family life and sexual health education.”[22] The legislature defines “responsible family life and sexuality education” as:

“Education in grades six through 12 that respects community values and encourages family communication; develops communication and decision making skills; contributes to health relationships and prevention of sexual violence; promotes individual responsibility; includes an abstinence-first approach to delaying initiation of sexual activity while also including education about contraception and disease prevention; is age-appropriate and medically accurate.”[23]

Senate Bill 451 would change Minnesota’s current sex education policy, which requires school districts to implement a curriculum that promotes abstinence-only-until-marriage. The bill is pending and will carry over into the next legislative session.[24]


Mississippi

Mississippi’s HB 1268, also known as the “Optimal Teen Health Act,” an abstinence-only bill, was referred to the Mississippi House Committee of Public Health and Human Services on January 21, 2013.[25] House Bill 1268 would require that Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA), the re-branding term for abstinence-only-until-marriage, be the state’s standard for sex education in public schools. The bill died in committee.[26]


Missouri

Missouri’s SB 450 is a sex education bill that would require that all sexual health curricula be age appropriate, medically accurate, inform about contraceptives and barrier methods, and present abstinence as the preferred behavior.[27] Senate Bill 450 would repeal the current prohibition on abortion providers delivering human sexuality instruction. Under the bill, school districts would be required to make their curricula and materials available for public review. The bill was referred to and remains in the Committee on Education.[28]

In Missouri’s State House, HB 889 is currently in the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. The sex education legislation would require that curricula be medically and factually accurate and based on peer-reviewed projects that have been demonstrated to influence healthy behavior.[29]


Montana

Montana’s controversial House Bill 239 proposed changing the current state sex education opt-out policy to an opt-in policy, requiring active parental permission.[30]  The bill passed both the Senate and the House, but was ultimately vetoed by the governor.[31]


Nebraska

Nebraska Legislative Bill 619 is a comprehensive sex education bill that would mandate that school districts accredited by the State Board of Education provide age-appropriate, medically-accurate, and culturally-sensitive sex education.[32] The bill would overhaul the state’s current sex educationpolicy, which does not require schools to provide sexual health education. Legislative Bill 619 is currently pending and will carry over into the next legislative session.[33]


Nevada

Nevada’s State House committee passed Assembly Bill (AB) 230, a sex education bill that proposed several changes to the current state sex education policy. The legislation would have expanded sexual health topics to include domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. In addition, AB 230 would have automatically enrolled students into sex education classes, with an opt-out option available to parents and guardians.[34] The bill was removed from the roster of bills to be voted upon and died in the Senate.[35]


New York

New York State has proposed several bills this legislative session that impact sexual health education. Senate Bill 1291 and the concurrent AB 6705, require that public schools provide comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically-accurate sex education.[36] Senate Bill 1291 died in committee, however AB 6705 remains in the Committee on Education.

Additional bills, SB 957 and the concurrent AB 2694, establish a grant program through the Department of Health for age-appropriate sexual health education.[37] Both versions remain in their respective Committees on Health.

Finally, SB 5897 would establish a program within the Department of Health to provide grants to public school districts, boards of cooperative educational services, school-based health centers, and community organizations to support age-appropriate sex education programs.  To be eligible for funding, programs must be age appropriate and medically accurate, among other requirements. The bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Rules.[38] The New York Legislature meets throughout the year, so all of the above bills are eligible for further consideration.


North Carolina

The North Carolina Parental Consent Bill, HB 694, would require unaccompanied minors to obtain parental or judicial consent for sexual health services, including STD testing and treatment, contraception, and pregnancy care.[39] If enacted, minors without parents or guardians would have to stand before a judge in order to gain access to those health services.[40] House Bill 694 currently remains in the Committee on Judiciary, carrying over into the next legislative session.

Introduced in February, SB 132 became state law 2013-307 on July 18, 2013. The new law amends the school health education program requirements to include instruction on the following preventable causes of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies: induced abortion, smoking, alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, and inadequate prenatal care.[41]


Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s HB 1380 and companion bill, SB 185, were introduced on February 5, 2013. The legislation would require that students be provided with medically-accurate, factually-based sexual health education. Currently, Oklahoma’s state policydoes not require the teaching of sex education. In addition to mandating sex education, HB 1380/SB 185 would grant parents and guardians the opportunity to inspect the curricula and opt their child(ren) out of any sex education.[42] The legislation will carry over into the second session of Oklahoma’s 54th Legislature.[43]


South Carolina

South Carolina’s HB 3435 proposed changes to the state’s current sex education law, updating the longstanding Comprehensive Health Education Act (CHEA) of 1988. Changes would include providing pregnancy prevention instruction, requiring schools to use approved comprehensive health education curricula, and certifying health education teachers.[44] HB 3435 passed out of the House Education and Public Works Subcommittee, awaiting full committee hearing, with the legislature still in session.[45]


Texas

There were several bills relating to sex education introduced in the 2013 Texas state legislative session.

Texas companion bills, SB 521 and HB1057, would have denied funding to any organization that performs abortions or refers patients to abortion providers. Texas has an abstinence-only-until-marriage approach to sex education, and the bill would have further limited youth access to sex education by preventing organizations like Planned Parenthood from providing sex education materials to students.[46] The bill died in committee upon the session adjournment.[47]

Additional bills, HB 42b and SB 27b, would amend the education code to require school districts to provide written notices to parents as to whether or not the district will provide human sexuality instruction to students. If instruction is to be provided, the notice will need to include a summary of the contents of the lessons, including whether the district’s curriculum is abstinence-only or comprehensive.  HB 42b was referred to House Committee on Public Education and SB 27b was introduced but not referred to committee.[48]

Also introduced were companion bills HB 48b and SB 25b, which would amend the education code to require that any course material or instruction related to human sexuality, STDs, or HIV/AIDS be evidence-based and selected by the board of trustees. HB 42b was referred to the House Committee on State Affairs, while SB 25b was introduced but not referred to committee.[49]


Utah

Utah’s Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Bill, SB 39, would have required the State Board of Education to develop online sex education curricula for parents to teach their children about sexual health.[50] The bill would not have changed Utah’s current sex education policy, but instead offered parents accessible information to assist with discussing sexual health with their children. After passing the State’s Senate[51] and House Education Committees, the bill failed on the House floor.[52]


[1]AZ SB1359 2013 Fifty-first Legislature 1st Regular, LegisScan, February 5, 2013, accessed June 24, 2013, http://legiscan.com/AZ/bill/SB1359/2013.

[2]An Act Amending Sections 15-102 and 15-711, Arizona Revised Statutes, relating to school curriculum (AZ SB1359), accessed September 6, 2013, http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/51leg/1r/bills/sb1359p.htm&Session_ID=110.

[3]AZ HB2506 Fifty-first Legislature 1st Regular, LegisScan, January 31, 2013, accessed September 5, 2013, http://legiscan.com/AZ/bill/HB2506/2013.

[4]Rob Moritz and John Lyon, “Arkansas Legislature: Bill To Bar Grants To Planned Parenthood Fails In Senate,” Times Record, April 5, 2013, accessed June 19, 2013, http://swtimes.com/sections/news/politics/arkansas-legislature-bill-bar-grants-planned-parenthood-fails-senate.html.

[5]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[6]Todd Engdahl, “Sex ed bill advances in Senate,” Ed New Colorado, March 7, 2013, accessed July 16, 2013, http://www.ednewscolorado.org/news/capitol-news/sex-ed-bill-advances-in-senate

[7]GA HR914 2013-2014, “Reproductive Freedom,” March 26, 2013, accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HR/914.

[8]Ibid.

[9]"HI HB399 2013, Regular Session,”Legiscan, April 24, 2013, accessed June 19, 2013, http://legiscan.com/HI/bill/HB399/2013.

[10]“HI SCR77” Hawaii State Legislature: Measure Status, accessed July 22, 2013, http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SCR&billnumber=77&year=2013.

[11]“Illinois Senate Votes in Favor of Comprehensive Sex Education,”Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, May 22, 2013, accessed June 19, 2013, http://plannedparenthoodillinoisaction.blogspot.com/2013/05/illinois-senate-votes-in-favor-of.html.

[12]98th General Assembly, State of Illinois, 2013 and 2014 (SB 2354), April 15, 2013, accessed May 24, 2013,  http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/98/SB/09800SB2354.htm.

[13]Dave McKinney, “Quinn OKs sex-ed bill backed by Planned Parenthood, ACLU,” Chicago Sun Times, August 16, 2013, accessed September 6, 2013, http://voices.suntimes.com/early-and-often/politics/quinn-oks-sex-ed-bill-backed-by-planned-parenthood-aclu/.

[14]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, February 2013, accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[15]Senate Bill 0454 Medically accurate sex education, Indiana 2013 First Regular Session, January 10, 2013, accessed September 6, 2013, http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2013&session=1&request=getBill&docno=454.

[16]Ibid.

[17]"KYSB312013, Regular Session,” Legiscan, January10, 2013, accessed July22, 2013, http://legiscan.com/KY/bill/SB31/2013.

[18]“Bill H. 421,” The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, accessed July 22, 2013 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H421.

[19]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[20]“Bill H. 450,” The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, accessed July 22, 2013 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/BillHtml/122127?generalCourtId=11.

[21]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[23]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July26, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[24]Ibid.

[25]“MS HB1268, Regular Session,” Legiscan, February 5, 2013, accessed July 26, 2013, http://legiscan.com/MS/bill/HB1268/2013.

[26]Ibid.

[27]“SB 450-Modifies provisions relating to sexual education,” Missouri Senate, accessed July 26,2013, http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=19273681.

[28]Ibid.

[29]“House Bill 889”, Missouri 97th General Assembly, accessed July 26th 2013, http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills131/biltxt/intro/HB0889I.htm.

[30]“MT HB 239- Define scope/boundaries of human sexuality/reproduction education K-12” accessed July 26, 2013, http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0239.htm.

[31]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, September2013, accessed September 6, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[32]“NE LB619 2013, Regular Session,” Legislature of Nebraska, accessed July 26, 2013, http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Intro/LB619.pdf.

[33]Ibid.

[34]Paul Takashi, “10 Facts You Should Know about Sex Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates in Nevada,” Las Vegas Sun, April 23, 2013, accessed June 19, 2013, http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/apr/23/10-facts-you-should-know-about-sex-education-and-t/#axzz2WUiKJhAT.

[35]“Bill Overhauling Sex Ed Curriculum Dies in Senate,” Associated Press, May 25, 2013, accessed June 19, 2013, http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/Bill-Overhauling-Sex-Ed-Curriculum-Dies-in-Senate-208911761.html.

[36]“ NY S01291” New York State Assembly 2013, accessed July 26, 2013, http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S01291&term=2013.

[37]“NY A02694” New York State Assembly 2013, accessed July 26, 2013, http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A02694&term=2013.

[38]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, (July2013), accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[39]Whitney Sewell, “House Bill in North Carolina Would Require Parental Consent for Access to Sexual Health Services,” SIECUS, May 2013, accessed June 24, 2013, http://siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Feature.showFeature&featureid=2278&pageid=483&parentid=478.

[40]Laura Bassett, “North Carolina Bill Requires Notarized Parental Consent for STD Testing and Treatment,” Huffington Post, May 7, 2013, accessed May 22, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/north-carolina-parental-consent-stds_n_3232238.html.

[41]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[42]“OK SB185 2013, Regular Session,"LegiScan, February 7, 2013, accessed June 24, 2013, http://legiscan.com/OK/bill/SB185/2013.

[43]Ibid.

[44]“South Carolina Legislative Update,” Planned Parenthood, accessed June 19, 2013, http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-systems/south-carolina-legislative-update-35655.htm.

[45]Ibid.

[46]“Stop Abstinence-Only Sex Ed,” The Shorthorn, April 15, 2013, accessed April 24, 2013, http://www.theshorthorn.com/opinion/column-stop-abstinence-only-sex-ed/article_304c4a6a-a5f4-11e2-b241-001a4bcf6878.html.

[47]Ibid.

[48]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[49]“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools,” National Conference of State Legislatures, July2013, accessed July16, 2013, http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

[50]Josh Furlong, “Sex Ed Bill Aims to Help Parents with the Talk”, KSL: Statecraft, February 7, 2013, accessed June 24, 2013, http://www.ksl.com/?sid=23987636&nid=757&title=sex-ed-bill-aims-to-help-parents-with-the-talk.

[51]Billy Hesterman, “Senate Passes Bill to Create Online Sex Ed Course for Parents” Daily Herald, February 28, 2013, accessed June 25, 2013, http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/legislature/senate-passes-bill-to-create-online-sex-ed-course-for/article_3b3dfa23-2fa7-5668-bdc4-602665d4ba2d.html.

[52]“S.B. 39 Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training,” Utah State Legislature, March 06, 2013, accessed, June 25, 2013, http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/static/SB0039.html.

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