Two conservative groups voiced concern Thursday at a Utah school board meeting about a new law allowing teachers to answer “spontaneous questions” about sex from students.
“If one child asks about oral sex or something explicit and the teacher answers it, it doesn’t mean the other 30 kids want to hear it,” said Robert Woods, a father with four children in public school, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Why can’t the teacher just say ‘That’s outside our curriculum. Please ask your parents if you really want to know’?”
Thirty protesters from Utah Eagle Forum and Pro-Life Utah occupied almost every public comment spot available after the president of Utah Eagle Forum, Gayle Ruzicka, found an educator guide instructing them how to handle students questions about sex.
The code reads: “Utah educators may respond to spontaneous student questions for the purposes of providing accurate data or correcting inaccurate or misleading information or comments made by students in class regarding sex education.” Their answers, it notes, must still abide by state law, which permits an “abstinence-based” sex education program.
The code does not allow teachers to advocate for “premarital or extramarital sexual activity” or promote contraceptive devices and instead promote abstinence as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy.
Despite the addition, one woman said the law would cause teachers to get into “grossly irresponsible” conversations with students. Another said it could become “inappropriate and potentially graphic.” Many feared the discussion would become pro-abortion.
The protest follows a Salt Lake County Department of Health report showing sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are rising in the county and leading the director to say the state’s sex education isn’t effective — which students need parental approval before participating.
“Teens need accurate, realistic and comprehensive STD education — whether that’s at home, at school, at church or in another venue appropriate for the discussion,” Director Gary Edwards said.
However, parents don’t want teachers answering the guides’ suggested questions — such as “what is masturbation?” or “What is oral and anal sex?” — and call for educators to direct students to ask their parents instead.
“For all of these years, parents have been opting their kids into sex education classes and not being told the truth of what’s being discussed,” Ms. Ruzicka said. “Most parents don’t want their children to be taught about these alternative sex practices.”
The board members did not comment on the groups’ concerns, so it is unclear whether any change will be brought by their protests.