State Representative Kelly Cassidy is among the champions of a bill to require Illinois public school districts to teach medically-accurate information about contraception if they teach sexuality education.1 Her role as a co-sponsor of HB 3027 has ignited a new round of conservative objections to the bill, with opponents targeting the Chicago Democrat’s sexual orientation.
Current state sex education law is a jumble of provisions dating from as far back as 1961 and continuing up through the early 1990s when the HIV epidemic demanded updates to the school code. Public schools are not required to teach sexuality topics, but those that do provide sexuality education must emphasize that, “abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome when transmitted sexually.”The code also requires that schools teach “honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.”What the code calls ‘family life’ instruction, if offered in grades 6-12, currently must include “instruction on the prevention, transmission and spread of AIDS.”2
HB 3027 originated at the start of 2011 and remains in committee after numerous motions and amendments. The bill proposes updates to several aspects of the state education code, and would require only that schools choosing to teach about sexuality provide medically-accurate information on contraception, keeping the grades 6-12 framework from the current code.
Prior to Cassidy’s co-sponsorship, chief sponsors Camille Lilly (House) and Heather Steans (Senate) came under fire from conservative critics for allegedly championing the “homosexuality-affirming elements of typical ‘comprehensive’ sex ed curricula that homosexual activists and their legislative allies hope Illinoisans won't notice before the law is passed.”3 The latest round of conservative objections to HB 3027 focus on the role of Cassidy, whom the Illinois Family Institute cites as a “lesbian activist” working to legalize same-sex marriage.4
1 Kate Sosin, “State House Bill Aims to Promote Sex Education,” Windy City Times, 21 December 2011, accessed 17 January 2012,
2 Illinois General Assembly web site, “Illinois Complied Statutes (105 ILCS 5/27-9.1) from Ch. 122, par. 27-9.1, Sec. 27-9.1. Sex Education,” accessed 20 January 2012, <http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=010500050HArt%2E+27&ActID=1005&ChapterID=17&SeqStart=157200000&SeqEnd=164000000>.
3 Illinois Family Institute, “Sex Ed bill Puts Ideology over Research,” Illinois Review, 8 November 2011, accessed 20 January 2012, <http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2011/11/sex-ed-bill-puts-ideology-over-research.html?cid=6a00d834515c5469e2015392e531a9970b>.
4David E. Smith, “Homosexual Activists Already Planning for Same-Sex Marriage Push,” Illinois Family Institute News & Opinion, 13 January 2012, accessed 17 January 2012, <http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=35483>.