Reporting Craig Dellimore
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – State lawmakers have passed legislation that would mandate schools that teach sex education in Illinois also would have to give students information about birth control.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports it’s now up to Gov. Pat Quinn to decide whether to sign the measure.
Currently, abstinence is the only required curriculum for sex ed classes in Illinois.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who sponsored the legislation, said teens should be given the information to make good decisions about sex.
“This bill makes sure that, if a public school is teaching sexual health education, then the classes must be age-appropriate, medically accurate, and complete,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said the downside to the measure is schools won’t have control over what they can teach if they choose to teach sex ed.
“If there wasn’t a negative to this bill, I would be all for it, but I think that we’re really offering consequences exactly in opposition to what we’re trying to do here, and that is get as much information to our kids as possible,” she said.
David Smith, director of the Illinois Family Institute – a social conservative advocacy group – said sex ed classes already give short shrift to abstinence education.
“There was a Heritage Foundation a few years ago that reviewed quite a few of the comprehensive sex ed curriculum – or what they would call abstinence-plus curriculum – and they found out that, on average, the curriculum only gave four percent of material and time towards abstinence. Everything else was condom training, and encouragement in experimentation,” he said.
But supporters of the legislation said abstinence-only programs are not effective, and young people should be taught proper birth control methods, and ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases if they have sex.
But Carol Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the new law would help young people make responsible, healthy decisions about sex.
Steans also said the measure would require schools to teach that abstinence is the only way to guarantee avoiding pregnancy or STDs, but would also require sex ed classes to provide accurate information on safe sex.