May 11, 2012 — A Louisiana House committee on Tuesday voted 9-9 to reject for the second time a bill (HB 820) that would mandate the teaching of sex education courses at public schools, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.
The House Education Committee first voted against the bill on April 25. State Rep. Patricia Smith (D), its sponsor, brought the measure up for debate again in a hearing on Tuesday, when more members were in attendance (Sentell, Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/10).
Although the bill failed for a second time, the committee approved another bill (HB 806) sponsored by Smith that would allow the state Department of Education to survey students about their sexual behavior. The bill will now advance to the House floor.
Under current law, students may not be "tested, quizzed or surveyed about their personal or family beliefs (about) sex, morality or religion." Smith's bill would maintain that provision but permit the Department of Education to survey students about "risk behavior associated with chronic health conditions including those related to sexual health." The bill would allow parents to decline letting their children participate in the survey (Barrow, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/9).