Gem State Roundup
Idaho Senate prints bill to prohibit sex ed, including on orientation or gender identity, before fifth grade
Idaho Sen. Ben Toews, R-Coeur d'Alene, introduced a bill that would prohibit all school personnel or third parties from any type of instruction related to human sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity before the fifth grade was introduced in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. (Otto Kitsinger for the Idaho Capital Sun)
A bill that would prohibit all school personnel or third parties from any type of instruction related to human sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity before the fifth grade was introduced in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
Senate Bill 1071, sponsored by Sen. Ben Toews, R-Coeur d’Alene, is a short piece of legislation that adds to an existing law stating parents or legal guardians can opt out of sex education in school.
Idaho does not have a comprehensive sex education curriculum for schools, and part of Idaho Code states that parents and churches have primary responsibility for sex education. Schools are meant to complement and supplement those teachings, and specific forms of sex education are left up to individual school boards.
Idaho Code also states if a school board chooses a sex education curriculum, it should stress the importance of family “in the social system of our culture,” and the responsibility that will exist when children establish their own families in the future. The statute directs the program to give youth the “scientific, physiological information for understanding sex and its relation to the miracle of life, including knowledge of the power of the sex drive and the necessity of controlling that drive by self-discipline.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare also provides three optional programs for educators to use called “Reducing the Risk” for children between the ages of 12 and 18.
Children in fifth grade are typically 10 or 11 years old.
Toews told the committee the goal was not to point fingers or say there were existing issues that the bill would remedy, but said it was a preventative action.
“We want parents to feel their children aren’t being introduced to that type of material before an appropriate age,” Toews said at the print hearing on Thursday. “Unfortunately, there’s a proliferation of content in our world today, and sometimes it’s being presented in ages below what’s appropriate.”
Sen. Janie Ward Engelking, D-Boise, voted against introducing the bill because she said she thought it was unnecessary. The rest of the committee members voted in favor of introducing it.
To proceed in the Senate, the education committee must hold a hearing for the bill, which could happen in the coming days of the legislative session.
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