- Earlier this month, the Utah House of Representatives passed legislation requiring changes to the state’s sex education curriculum to include the teaching of refusal skills and warnings about the dangers of pornography, Deseret News reports.
- The bill, which has not yet passed the Senate, has strong bi-partisan support and has been reviewed by 30 diverse groups who all either support the bill or have agreed not to oppose it.
- If the bill passes, school boards would have the option of either adopting the new curriculum or finding other instructional materials that comply with state school board rules. The bill also recommends that school boards review data every two years regarding teen pregnancy and rates of sexually transmitted diseases, data regarding child sexual abuse, and pornography-related complaints.
The recent wave of sexual harassment allegations and the #MeToo Movement have drawn a national spotlight on an issue that has long been minimized in education. However, the growing number of sexual harassment reports indicates a clear need for instruction on acceptable — and legal — behaviors during a young person’s formative years. This is an issue that has been ignored in most state policies regarding sex education.
In some cases, parents are voicing their support for stronger sexual harassment education and policies, while many advocacy groups are doing the same. As some states are reexamining the issue, school boards and school district leaders also need to be proactive in taking steps to address the issue within the parameters of current state law, especially as some states are leaving all the decisions up to local boards. Since school boards and district leaders are charged with the education and protection of students in their districts, a fresh look at the situation seems to be warranted.