National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | N.C. House Passes Sex Education Bill That Offers Parents Choice of Programs

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | N.C. House Passes Sex Education Bill That Offers Parents Choice of Programs
[April 20, 2009]

The North Carolina House on Wednesday approved a bill (H.B. 88) that would allow parents of children in grades seven through nine to choose between the state's current abstinence-only sex education program and a new comprehensive sex education program, the Raleigh News and Observer reports. Students whose parents do not make a choice would not receive instruction in either curriculum. The House approved the bill 64-53, with Republicans casting most of the dissenting votes. It must pass an additional House vote before being sent to the Senate.

According to the News and Observer, the bill does not establish a specific curriculum but does outline principles that schools would have to include in each program. For example, students in the abstinence-only program would be taught that abstinence from all sexual activity outside of marriage is expected of school-age children, while students in the comprehensive track would be taught that abstinence is the only certain way to prevent unintended pregnancy and to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Under the bill, school officials would have to make curriculum materials available to parents before they choose a program. Current North Carolina law allows local school boards to implement comprehensive sex education programs after a series of hearings and other steps. Supporters of the bill say the current law makes it too complicated to change to comprehensive programs, which about 10 school boards have adopted.

The News and Observer reports that opponents of the bill maintain that the current law offers enough information about sexuality. However, advocates for the bill argue that teenagers are contracting STIs and becoming pregnant at higher rates and that the bill would provide them with more complete information (Niolet, Raleigh News and Observer, 4/16).