Illinois lawmakers re-referred both the REACH (HB 1736) and Healthy Youth (HB 3071) Acts back to the House Rules Committee, but it didn’t mean those bills were dead. Instead, they were given new life and combined into one amendment that was added to Senate Bill 818 as Amendment 2. The new bill still mandates the teaching of sex education to students in kindergarten through grade 12 and promotes abortion in public schools.
According to Molly Malone, assistant director of legislative affairs with the Pro-Family Alliance, “For the first time in Illinois history, not only do we see an actual promotion of sexual activity for students, but we also see the removal of any teaching of abstinence whatsoever in the proposed legislation.”
Malone described SB 818 as “originally a shell bill, but now it’s been amended.” A shell bill typically contains meaningless wording and is void of substantive legislation. Such bills are assigned to House Rules Committees to wait for something of substance to be added.
The Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children’s Health (REACH) Act, which was supported by Planned Parenthood, proposed sex education in public schools beginning with lessons in kindergarten focusing on personal safety, respecting others, and identifying trustworthy adults. From 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 abortion, birth control, and how to prevent getting STDs.
She described the Healthy Youth Act, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as “very similar to the REACH Act, except it originally included private schools.”
The proponents of both bills worked together to include parts of both bills in the newly amended SB 818. “It’s not really important which components came from which,” said Malone, “what matters is that the resulting bill will promote abortion, the LGBT lifestyle, and will sexualize students.”
She further explained how, if the legislation were to pass, it could be a serious threat to individual and religious liberty. Malone cautioned it 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.”
Warned Malone, “Those children and parents who choose to believe what Scripture teaches about sexuality will be ostracized and labeled as bigots in their own schools should SB 818 as amended pass.”
In the new version of the bill, schools will have the option of choosing between pre-selected curriculum and parents may opt their students out of the classes. However, schools must provide the classes and not all parents will be aware their children are attending them.
The bill has moved out of committee and could be called for a floor vote at anytime. “Though SB 818 as amended touts medical accuracy, it promotes the ideologies of abortion, gender identity, and gender expression,” Malone said. “Medical accuracy would demand that children are taught that life begins at conception, that a man cannot become a woman, and that abstinence until marriage is the safest, healthiest choice.”
Updated May 13, 2021