Concerned conservative, pro-family groups attended the Utah Board of Education meeting on Thursday to voice their displeasure over a new teacher guide for sex education, which they consider to be “inappropriate.”
The guide, which is in accordance with Utah law, would allow teachers to answer "spontaneous questions" from students about sex.
In Utah, the state code currently permits an "abstinence-based" sex education program. In such programs, teachers are encouraged to promote celibacy as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and disease and teachers are by any means allowed to encouraged premarital or extramarital sexual activity.
However, in April, new K-12 health standards were passed, making it the first comprehensive update to sex education in the state in 20 years, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Utah State School Board staff members proceeded to develop an instructional guide for teachers to help them address topics regarding sex education.
The Utah State Board of Education teacher’s guide on health education states that "teachers may respond to spontaneous student questions for the purposes of providing medically accurate data or correcting inaccurate or misleading information or comments made by students in class."
Also included in the guideline are questions that are often asked by students and how a teacher may approach them. Some of the 52 questions listed are, "Can girls get pregnant if they have sex standing up?", "What is date rape?" and "What is a wet dream?"
“Most of the questions I cannot read to you,” Gayle Ruzicka, the president of the Utah Eagle Forum, a conservative interest group, said on Thursday. “It would be inappropriate and embarrassing for all of us.”
“Yet, our children have to sit through these unexpected and embarrassing questions,” she added.
Utah law still prohibits teachers from answering questions about sexual techniques, and if a teacher is uncomfortable with answering a question, he or she is not required to respond, according to the guide. Teachers may talk of forms of contraception, but they are not allowed to promote the use of contraception for premarital or extramarital relationships.
The demonstration on Thursday was organized by the Utah Eagle Forum and Pro-Life Utah, with members of the groups signing up for "nearly every slot during the public comment period," according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The Utah Eagle Forum did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
Robert Woods, who is a father of five children, four of which attend public school, said, "It is disturbing as a parent to hear that these teachers are being encouraged to answer spontaneous questions about anal sex, oral sex, masturbation. Even though they say, ‘Well, don’t get explicit,’ some of the suggested answers are very explicit.”
“I don’t understand why the teacher can’t say, ‘That’s outside our curriculum. Please ask your parents,'" he added.
Deanna Holland, the vice president of Pro-Life Utah, who has a daughter in a seventh-grade health class, said she didn’t want her child to have to hear these questions that may arise at any time.
“For all of these years, parents have been opting their kids into sex education classes and not being told the truth of what’s being discussed,” Ruzicka said. “Most parents don’t want their children to be taught about these alternative sex practices.”
According to Utah law, students must have parental permission to participate in human sexuality education. Parents are also allowed to opt their child in or out of any section of the class's curriculum.
Board members did not respond to the comments at the meeting.
Utah School Board representatives did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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