A coalition of parents, educators and public officials is pressing Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert to veto a controversial measure that seeks to ban any form of comprehensive sex education in schools.
According to an article in the Salt Lake City Tribute, the group is comprised of the Utah Educators Association, the Utah PTA and the state’s Democratic Party.
The organization came together in response to Republican House member Bill Wright’s House Bill 363, which was passed in late February by the Utah House of Representatives. The bill states that abstinence education is the only acceptable form of sex education for the state’s public school students, outlawing discussion or advocacy of contraception, homosexuality or any sexual activity outside of marriage.
UEA spokesperson Kory Holdaway said that the coalition delivered a letter to Governor Herbert on Friday asking him to veto the bill. The Utah PTA is drafting its own letter and the state Democratic Party released a statement “demanding” a veto.
An online petition urging the governor to block the bill had gathered more than 37,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
The Tribune quotes Herbert’s spokesperson Ally Isom as saying that the governor has not yet made a decision on the bill, but that Herbert intends to do his “do due diligence to review it, hear both sides, sort the facts from the rumors, and make the best decision based on policy, not politics.”
Herbert, a Republican, says that he would rather see the onus of the responsibility for sex education placed on students’ parents. Late last week, the governor said that he wants to see “parents and guardians” as young people’s primary source of reproductive information. “And I realize families are different, but the primary focus should be on parents and them taking on that responsibility.”
The governor has 20 days within adjournment to sign or veto the bill(.pdf), or he can take no action and allow the bill to automatically become law.
The state of Texas has led the nation in the amount of money it has devoted to abstinence-only sex edcuation. As of September of 2009, it also led the nation in the number of repeat teen births. Houston, Texas was the top city in the U.S. for births to girls under 15. Fort Worth was tied for seventh place in under-15 births, with Houston and Austin also in the top ten.
(Photo of UT Gov. Herbert via WikiMedia Commons)