A bill introduced in the Iowa House would expand what’s required to be taught in schools to include “age-appropriate”, comprehensive sex education beginning in kindergarten. The legislation is being pushed by Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, who is a longtime educator.
She says kids need more information than they get in schools where abstinence only is taught. “We need to give kids good information. We need to give kids the ability, the skill set to be able to make a good choice and good choices in their lives,” Mascher says. Mascher says parents would have the option to pull their children from the sexuality classes.
But the proposal still raises concerns among some private school administrators. The executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, Tom Chapman, says the idea violates the moral beliefs of many parents. “We think that the sexuality education is a job for parents, and we’d certainly would like to keep it that way. And this bill would require all Catholic schools to teach comprehensive sex education as defined by the state board of education, so we would have some concern about what they might approve as the curriculum,” Chapman said.
The Association of Christian Schools is also opposed to the bill, while Planned Parenthood is lobbying in favor of it. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokesman, Kyle Carlson, says the studies he’s read prove that the abstinence only lessons taught in some schools don’t work to keep young people from sexual activity.
“We know it’s more effective to provide more information in terms of healthy relationships, birth control options, getting tested for S-T-Is and treatment for that,” Carlson says.
But Chapman says parochial school parents don’t want their children presented with more information about sex. “A lot of our parents really want abstinence only education and that’s why they choose a Catholic school and so we’d like to keep that,” Chapman says. The bill will now be considered by the full education committee of the Iowa House.