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Here’s what I know about Senate Bill 1619, filed recently by Illinois State Senator Heather A. Steans:

  • It calls for comprehensive sex education, while supporting abstinence:

    Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades 6 through 12 shall include instruction on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS…

    All public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse shall emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when transmitted sexually.

  • It promotes medically-accurate, age-appropriate information:

    Course material and instruction shall be developmentally and age appropriate, medically accurate, and complete.

    Course material and instruction shall replicate evidence-based programs or substantially incorporate elements of evidence-based programs.

  • It doesn’t support marriage equality:

    Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.

  • It’s not mandatory for any child:

    No pupil shall be required to take or participate in any class or course in comprehensive sex education if his parent or guardian submits written objection thereto, and refusal to take or participate in such course or program shall not be reason for suspension or expulsion of such pupil.

The bill’s not great. I don’t know why the government should be supporting “monogamous heterosexual marriage” in lieu of other lifestyle choices. Not to mention that not every monogamous heterosexual couple automatically deserves respect.

At least the idea of the bill is a good one. We need proper, better sex education in health classes. Don’t we want children to be more educated about the subject?

Of course not, says the Illinois Family Institute. Laurie Higgins is fuming about it.

SB 1619, otherwise known by its obfuscatory title, “Personal Responsibility Education Act,” is yet another attempt by legislator-ideologues to use public money to normalize sexual immorality and perversion by inculcating children and teens with subjectivist, relativist assumptions about sexuality.

Those damn hippie legislators want to use evidence-based programs? NEVER!

[The bill r]emoves a provision that requires all public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse to emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm.

There’s nothing “abnormal” about not being abstinent. It’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves. Schools would be doing students a service by letting them know the truth about the consequences of having sex — you could get pregnant. You could get a disease. There may be emotional consequences. There’s also the possibility that nothing bad could happen at all.

And who knew “comprehensive sex ed” was such a dirty phrase?

The truth is comprehensive sex ed is incomprehensive, distorted and propelled by a subversive sexual ethic. Comprehensive sex educators seek to tell kids everything possible about sex except of course anything that challenges their subjectivist, relativist presuppositions and libertine social and political goals.

What?! Not EVERYTHING POSSIBLE! I thought educators were supposed to limit students’ knowledge. I’ve been teaching Math all wrong…

She then selectively lists the horrible, awful things these evil “comprehenders” want to teach children (PDF) — courtesy of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (not an official government organization, for what it’s worth). You can click on the image to enlarge it:

Umm… yep. All of those things are factually true. And the earlier children learn it, the better off they’ll be.

Gay people do, in fact, exist. And they can be in committed relationships. (Even if the bigots won’t allow them to get married.)

Guys and girls masturbate. But you shouldn’t do it while sitting on the school bus in front of other people. (That’s just good manners, really.)

Vaginal intercourse is — surprise! — the most common way to make a baby. (Second most common way to make a baby? Deep fried.)

By the time children get to high school, what does SIECUS suggest they know? Here’s what Laurie selectively highlights:

Again, most everything on there is factually true or just good advice.

Except for one: “Young teenagers are not mature enough for a sexual relationship that includes intercourse.” Really? No doubt most of them aren’t. But I’d guess that there are a few of them with more maturity than some college students or adults who jump into sexual relationships.

In any case, that one line sounds like advice that ought to be geared toward younger kids, who are discovering their sexuality for the first time…

Oh wait. It is.

Laurie lists that as an item in the “Ages 15-18” category.

But SIECUS actually lists that as a Level 3 item (for ages 12-15), where it might actually make more sense.

Deliberate distortion? Or just another example of a Christian group not double-checking readily-available facts?

(It probably doesn’t matter. Who needs facts when you have Jesus on your side?)

Laurie’s recommendation at the end of all this?

Illinoisans should oppose this bill like their kids’ lives depend on it.

She’s wrong.

We need to support this bill like our kids’ lives depend on it.

They need good information. Factual information. Relevant information.

The abstinence-only, no-sex-before-marriage, don’t-touch-another-person-that-way, homos-won’t-exist-if-we-don’t-acknowledge-them, lame excuse for abstinence-only sex education has made students across the country all the more ignorant and irresponsible.

If they want to wait until marriage or be sexually active, that’s their choice. But they deserve to know the truth about what they’re stepping into in both cases.

The Illinois Family Institute (and all the other Christian Right groups) don’t want that. They think children are too immature to make decisions like that for themselves. They believe parents should control their kids’ genitalia until they’re marrying their opposite-sex spouse. (See Purity Balls.)

There’s no reason to oppose this sensible bill. If you live in Illinois, here’s a way (via Planned Parenthood) to contact your state senator so you can urge them to support SB 1619.