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House committee considering bill to bring abstinence-only sex ed to schools

State law already requires an emphasis on abstinence education as a part of a sexual education curriculum.

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The only 100 percent effective method to avoid the risk of pregnancy and STDs is to abstain from sex altogether. That’s already emphasized in sex education programs in Alabama, according to several speakers last week at the House Education Policy Committee opposing House Bill 195 by Rep. Susan DuBose, R-Hoover.

“I think most of us can agree that young people need messages of abstinence and prevention when it comes to sex,” said Christina Clark Okarmus, executive director of the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health. “This bill, HB195, is an archaic and dangerous piece of legislation for our youth.” 

DuBose had criticized ACASH in introducing the bill, and several speakers spoke out against comprehensive sex education.

Becky Gerritson, executive director of Eagle Forum, read excerpts from a comprehensive sex education program — although she didn’t say whether it was Alabama’s curriculum — and three times equated it to “grooming.”

Proponents of the bill also argued that condoms have an 18 percent failure rate, according to the CDC. That number is actually 13 percent, and the CDC states that failure is often due to inconsistent or incorrect use, not a failure of the condom itself.

The bill would prohibit sex education programs from “demonstrating the use of or providing distribution information regarding contraceptives” and from “using graphic materials that are sexually explicit, normalize teenage sexual activity or promote or encourage no marital sexual activity.”

State law already requires an emphasis on abstinence education as a part of a sexual education curriculum, but DuBose and supporters say the law doesn’t go far enough.

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“(ACASH) may talk to you about a program that is called comprehensive sex education that is promoted by Planned Parenthood and normalizes teen sex,” DuBose said. “There are many problems with this comprehensive sex education program. They want to mandate comprehensive sex health every year from K-12.”

DuBose also took issue with a statement on the ACASH website to limit the rights of parents to interfere with sex education.

To that effect, the bill requires curricula to be accessible by parents up to 14 days before the program begins, allowing them to opt their children out, and also creates civil action for parents who believe a program is not in compliance.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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