A controversial sex education bill has moved from an Illinois House committee on Tuesday, May 25, and its next and final stop is a vote by the full House. The bill, containing a large portion of the REACH education requirements, will require special LGBT-favored curriculum, if a school system chooses to teach sex ed. A mandate involving private school was eliminated, when the committee merged the REACH plan with the Healthy Youth Act, as it amended Senate Bill 818. It is now named the “Keeping Youth Healthy and Safe Bill” by its proponents.
The bill could be called up for a vote on the House floor for a vote at any time before the spring legislative session is scheduled to conclude at the end of the month.
While the controversial bill no longer mandates public schools teach sex education to students in kindergarten through grade 12, it does state public schools opting to offer sex education classes must offer the curriculum approved by the National Sex Education Standards by the Future of Sex Education (a non-governmental organization).
REACH 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, has called the act 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, described the Healthy Youth Act, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, as “very similar to the REACH Act, except it originally included private schools.” Proponents of the bills worked together to include parts of both in the newly amended SB 818.
“It’s not really important which components came from which,” she said, “what matters is that the resulting bill will promote abortion, the LGBT lifestyle, and will sexualize students.”
Malone said if the legislation were to pass, it 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.”
“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,” Malone said.