INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Conservative groups urged Indiana lawmakers Thursday to pass a bill that
would require parents to “opt in” in order for their children to take sex
education classes in public schools.
The proposal, which
was debated during a House committee hearing, would require parents to be
notified - and give them the opportunity to review - any curriculum dealing
with sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill would also
prohibit public schools from providing that education without a parent’s
House Speaker Brian
Bosma said it’s appropriate for parents to make these decisions and “not
local teachers or school administrators.”
“I do not have a
problem with a parent having approval rights over what their children are
taught in school about sexual education,” the Indianapolis Republican said
Thursday. “Notifying parents of their right to review materials, I think, is
entirely reasonable and I would want to do so with my own kids.”
The bill sponsored
by GOP Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn is slated for a committee vote next week.
It was previously approved by the full Senate.
Kruse praised the
idea of requiring parent to “opt in” rather than merely giving them the
opportunity to opt their kids out of sex ed.
“Opt-in covers all
parents so all parents have to make that decision,” said Kruse, who is also
the Senate Education Committee chairman. “I think that’s a better method to
Sex education is
not required under Indiana law, so schools handle it differently. Many use
an opt-out manner where schools send notification to parents about sex
education classes and parents must send the form back if they want their
child excused from class.
Democrats on the
committee said opt-out is working just fine. However, some people are
critical of that approach, noting that silence from a parent doesn’t mean
Backers of the bill
voiced concerns over inappropriate sexual education materials, such as
teaching school-age children about condoms and masturbation. The proposal is
backed by social conservative groups, including the Indiana Liberty
Coalition, Advance America, and the Indiana Catholic Conference.
support parental rights but maintain the “opt-in” requirement could result
in fewer students learning about important health matters, and a lack of
compliance from students and parents.
While Bosma said he
supports the general idea behind the bill, he did caution that it looks “a
little unwieldy,” which could mean changes will be made to the proposal.