SALT LAKE CITY — Following the controversial sex education bill in last year's legislative session, which would have instructed schools to teach abstinence-only education, one Utah lawmaker is looking to change the discussion by making sex education training materials available for parents.
Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, introduced the "Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training" bill, which would require the State Board of Education to develop a curriculum for parents to teach their children about health and sex education.
"What we should be talking about is what is the parents' responsibility here and is there something we need to do with them in feeling comfortable teaching about the most intimate human relationships at home, rather than abdicating that to the schools," Reid said.
The information would be made available to parents, Reid said, as a way to combat sex education not being taught in the homes.
"It's just providing tools for the parents to use when they're teaching their children about sex education," he said. "The focus is on the parent."
Reid said he believes parents feel uncomfortable teaching their children or do not know how to approach their children without making them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
"This is an age for parents to sit down with their children and go through something, which the children are very comfortable doing anyway, and it kind of changes the focus from the embarrassment of talking about it," Reid said.
The curriculum would be made available to parents online, but home instructional materials could be obtained from the school district. The individual school districts would then track the number of instructional material being distributed to parents and report the information to the State Board of Education.
"It's not tracking which individuals took it," Reid said, "but how many people are actually using the information."
Reid admits some will be opposed to the bill, but said he hopes it will lead to the open communication between parents and their children.
"I think any time you can encourage discussion and communication between the parent and child on sex education or any other matter it is a good thing," he said. "It's a positive thing and it should be supported by the government."
The bill is scheduled to be heard before the Senate Education Committee on Feb 11, where a local debate class will offer their perspective on the issue of sex education.