Statement of SIECUS President and CEO, Joseph DiNorcia, Jr.
April 8, 2010
In Juneau County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Scott Southworth has declared war on the Wisconsin state law that lays out requirements for sex education. We believe that Mr. Southworth should be reprimanded by his superiors and face disciplinary action for using fear tactics and bullying in his efforts to subvert the laws of Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin law, the Healthy Youth Act, was signed by Governor Jim Doyle in March and will take effect in the coming school year. It requires that sex education programs taught in Wisconsin be medically accurate, age appropriate, and teach about STDs and contraception. We fully support this important law because it promises to increase the health and well being of all young people across the state.
Mr. Southworth’s laughable claims that teachers following the new state law might face prosecution under statutes designed to protect children from sexual assault are both perverse and offensive. The suggestion that comprehensive sex education, which is both designed and proven to help protect young people, is akin to sexual misconduct or promotion of sexual assault should not be taken seriously. However, the fear that he has instilled both in local school boards and teachers seems to be having the chilling effect Mr. Southworth is clearly seeking. New Lisbon School District Superintendent, Tom Andres, for example, expressed how Mr Southworth’s position has caused concern and confusion among teachers and school boards.
SIECUS strongly believes that Mr. Southworth is guilty of putting the best interests of young people and his state at risk for his own political grandstanding, while putting Wisconsin’s hard working teachers at fear for their jobs.
We call on all Wisconsin policy makers, as well as the state’s district attorney’s office, to make it clear that attempts like Mr. Southworth’s to derail the laws of Wisconsin will not be tolerated. Sex education and the future of Wisconsin’s young people are serious issues that deserve serious discussion, not threats and fear mongering from a county DA with delusions of grandeur.