Yesterday, Democratic Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod reintroduced sexuality education legislation to the Assembly Committee on Education which requires parents to opt-out of sexuality education curriculum. Current Nevada law requires parent to opt-in for their children. Starting in the third grade, Assembly Bill 357 also requires teaching statewide “evidence-based” and factual information about puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes. Additionally, AB 357 adds two students to an advisory committee, expands instruction to “outside entities”, other than a health teacher or school district employee, to teach the curriculum, and eliminates local curriculum control from parents and school board trustees by requiring the school board to implement standards adopted by the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools–a council under the Nevada Department of Education.
Per the Legislative Counsel Digest: (emphasis added)
Existing law requires the board of trustees of each school district to establish a course or unit of a course of instruction concerning the human immunodeficiency virus, the human reproductive system, related communicable diseases and sexual responsibility which must be taught by a teacher or school nurse whose qualifications have been approved by the board of trustees. Existing law requires each board of trustees to establish an advisory committee to advise the district concerning the content of and materials to be used in such a course. (NRS 389.036).Section 2of this bill revises these requirements by requiring the board of trustees of a school district to establish a course or unit of a course of instruction in evidence–based, factual instruction in sexuality education. Section 2also: (1) adds two pupils who attend schools in the district to the membership of the advisory committee; and (2) requires each member of the advisory committee to have one vote on each matter requiring a vote. Section 2additionally requires the advisory committee to make recommendations on the persons who will provide instruction in a course or unit of a course in sexuality education. Section 3of this bill requires the standards adopted by the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools for instruction in health to include standards for sexuality education. Section 2requires the course or unit of a course of instruction to: (1) comply with such standards of content and performance established by the Council for a course of study in health; and (2) be appropriate for the ages of pupils who receive the instruction.Section 3also authorizes the Council to include topics related to sexuality education in the standards for other courses where appropriate.Existing law further requires notice to be given to a parent or guardian of a pupil to whom such a course or unit of such a course of instruction will be offered and requires the school district to provide a form for the parent or guardian of a pupil to provide written permission for the pupil to participate in the course or unit of a course. (NRS 389.036) Section 2replaces this form by requiring the school district to provide a form for the parent or guardian of a pupil to refuse to authorize a pupil’s participation in specific lessons in the course or the entire course.
Proponents of this bill cite the need for “evidence-based” medically accurate instruction in sex education and note that some students do not have parents or guardians available to sign the forms necessary to advance this necessary education.
The groups and individuals opposing this bill noted that the sexually explicit material should not be available to children as young as nine and that a “one-size-fits-all-approach” does not consider the differences of various counties and undermines parental involvement and consent. Many also asserted that Planned Parenthood was behind this bill, as Section One of this bill requires instruction on how “to locate and access reproductive health services, including, without limitation, obtaining contraceptives, barrier methods, cancer screenings and testing for and the treatment of sexually transmitted infections.”
During opposition testimony, Erin Phillips, CEO of Power2Parent highlighted the failing education system in Nevada: “Only 26 percent of students are proficient in math and less than 40 percent are proficient in English. I think we should ensure that we are educating our children instead of expanding graphic sexuality education.”
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