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Lawmakers Vote Down Proposal To Clarify Contraceptive Education

Austen Diamond for KUER

A proposal to clarify that it’s OK for teachers to talk about contraception in the classroom stalled in a legislative committee Tuesday on a tie vote.

Under current law, teachers can discuss contraceptives, but they’re prohibited from advocating for anything besides abstinence. Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful said because of that, many health teachers are scared to even touch the subject of contraception.


In the House Education Committee Wednesday afternoon, Ward read some emails from teachers about their dilemma.


“I really hate when we’re having class discussions and a student wants to know more and asks a very serious question,” one teacher wrote. “I have to tell them that I cannot talk about it because of the state law. I would rather have a student get correct information from me than from a friend or the internet.”


Ward, a family physician, called contraceptives and family planning part of the “basic toolkit of life” and said teachers should be able to talk freely about what different types of contraceptives do in an approved curriculum.


“I do not want people to have to pay $100 at some point to come to my office, as a physician, to get that information. I would like them to start with some basic information,” he said.


But critics of the bill, like Dalane England with the United Women’s Forum, want to stick to abstinence-only sex education. She also said the bill is too vague.


“Teachers still have to figure out what to say and what not to say,” England said. She added today’s society is “sex-saturated” and said “the more we talk about sex to teenagers, the more we get more sex with teenagers.”


With a tie vote of 6-6, the legislation will not advance to the House floor.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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