Ohio House Committee Approves Amendment To Limit Sex Education in Schools

April 18, 2013 — The Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a budget proposal that includes a provision barring schools from endorsing anything other than abstinence in sex education classes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Blackwell, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/16).

Under the sex education amendment, schools would be prohibited from promoting "any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with sexual activity" (Siegel, Columbus Dispatch, 4/17). The amendment defines gateway sexual activity the same way "sexual contact" is defined in a section of the Ohio Revised Code that deals with sex offenses. The code describes such contact as any touching of an erogenous zone for the purposes of sexual satisfaction (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/16).

In addition, the amendment prohibits the distribution of certain materials, demonstrations using "sexual stimulation" devices and distribution of contraception.

Instructors who violate the measure could be sued by a parent or guardian for damages, as well as face a court-imposed civil fine of up to $5,000.

Committee Chair Ron Amstutz (R) declined to state who proposed the sex education amendment or why it was in a budget proposal (Columbus Dispatch, 4/17).

Democrats on the House committee condemned the amendment. State Rep. John Patrick Carney (D) said, "Evidence-based health care, watch out, because the Ohio House Republicans are on the warpath" (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/16).