A controversial sex education bill passed in the House May 28 and now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature. The bill, named the “Keeping Youth Healthy and Safe Bill” by its proponents, allows parents to opt out of the curriculum for their students, and school districts may also decide not to teach the subject. But districts that do teach sex ed must offer the curriculum approved by the National Sex Education Standards by the Future of Sex Education (a non-governmental organization). Opponents of the bill say the standards are inappropriate for children.
The bill passed in the Illinois House by a vote of 60-48 after its earlier approval in the Senate by a vote of 37-18. It includes a large portion of the previously publicized REACH plan, which was originally supported by Planned Parenthood and proposes sex education in public schools. For kindergarten through grade 2, lessons would focus on personal safety, respecting others, and identifying trustworthy adults. In grades 3-5, students would study anatomy, sexual orientation, gender identity, local resources related to reproductive health, and gender expression. In grades 6-12, the curriculum includes abstinence, abortion, birth control, and how to prevent getting STDs.
Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the Pro-Family Alliance, previously called the measure an effort to indoctrinate children against their beliefs and those of their parents. “And that’s very important because that’s where we come from,” Rivera said in a virtual hearing on the legislation, according to Capitol News Illinois. “This is a religious belief for us.”
Molly Malone, assistant director of legislative affairs with the Pro-Family Alliance, said the legislation could be a serious threat to individual and religious liberty. The bill could “cause discrimination against students and their parents who believe that homosexual and transgender lifestyles are wrong and that abstinence until marriage occurs is spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally the safest, healthiest choice for sexual activity,” she said.