Minnesota Legislature: Panel OKs abstinence bill
ST. PAUL -- A bill headed to the full Minnesota House puts an exclamation point in a law requiring abstinence be part of sex education classes. "We're not taking away anything" that is currently done, Rep.
ST. PAUL -- A bill headed to the full Minnesota House puts an exclamation point in a law requiring abstinence be part of sex education classes.
"We're not taking away anything" that is currently done, Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, told the House Education Committee Tuesday before it approved her bill on a voice vote.
The measure requires school districts that provide sex education classes to include instruction in abstaining from sex until marriage.
No date has been set for the full House to consider the bill, House File 580, and no hearing has been scheduled in the Senate Education Committee.
Erickson and other conservatives have pushed the bill for years.
"Many parents don't know what is being taught in the classroom," testified Barbara Anderson, a former teacher who now travels the state preaching abstinence.
Erickson, Anderson and other supporters said the use of condoms, gay lifestyles and other sex-related elements are included in classes, but abstinence often is missing despite the fact that current state law requires it.
"Abstinence until after marriage education is long overdue," Anderson said.
Teachers disputed that.
"Health teachers in Minnesota always, always present abstinence," suburban teacher Bonnie Johnson said.
But, Erickson countered, classes often just include temporary abstinence, not until marriage.
Johnson said curriculum, including sex education, is approved by local school boards and they should continue to have that authority.
High school student Rachel Hicks said it is not practical to expect her age group to refrain from sex. For gays, she added, the abstinence until marriage proposal does not apply since they cannot marry.
"It is easy to jump on the moral bandwagon," college student Sarah Hoffman said.
A religious-based stance such as abstinence should not be used to decide school policy, she said.
Besides, added Nancy Nelson, "there is no scientific evidence that teaching abstinence until marriage works."
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said he didn't see why anyone opposes the Erickson bill if abstinence already is being taught.
"It's just something else that should be included in the curriculum," he said.
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