Posted: Feb 6, 2013 3:58 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Feb 7, 2013 7:36 AM
HELENA - A bill requiring parental consent before a child can take sex education in public schools passed a critical vote in the House on Wednesday.
House Bill 239 requires parents to agree in writing before their children can take sexual education classes.
Representative Liz Bangerter (R - Helena) said this bill came about after the Helena School District implemented a comprehensive and controversial health enhancement curriculum. She said parents were outraged and this is a bill that keeps them involved in the process.
"This bill does not restrict what a school can teach or not teach. It simply allows me, the mother, to choose how my children is taught about sex education," Bangerter's said on the House floor. "This bill is a mother's dream bill."
Opponents to the bill say the program should be opt-out instead of opt-in.
Representative Bryce Bennett (D - Missoula) says oftentimes the kids who need sex education are the ones whose parents forget to sign the note that comes home in the backpack.
"When people don't get the proper information we see things like high school kids getting syphilis and gonorrhea and getting pregnant when they are 14," Bennett says. "That's not the goal of what we want here in this state. We want to be able to provide folks with the opportunity to get accurate information."
The entire Democratic caucus voted against the bill including four Republican lawmakers: Representatives Steve Gibson from Helena, Roger Hagen and Brian Hoven from Great Falls and Doc Moore from Missoula.
In a 57 - 43 vote, the bill cleared second reading. It now awaits a third reading vote before heading to the Senate.