Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Senate’s sex-ed legislation about politics, not education
Recently, the state Senate passed a bill that would require students to opt in to sex education classes, instead of opting out like they can now. The bill also prohibits any organization that performs abortions from teaching a sex-ed class in Alaska schools.
Another bill under consideration would enforce the new law by terminating a teacher who violates it.
Turns out this is less about the teaching of sex education, than it is about who is teaching it. These bills directly target Planned Parenthood, which currently provides health classes to some 2,000 students in districts across Alaska.
You probably remember that Congress tried and failed to defund Planned Parenthood when anti-abortion activists produced undercover videos of the organization supposedly attempting to illegally sell fetal tissue. You’ve probably forgotten that a grand jury in Texas indicted the videographers, and not Planned Parenthood.
And so the battle against the nonprofit has moved to the states.
Supporters of the bill say record numbers of students are leaving public schools because they’re exposed to subject matter that violates their family values, although officials with both the Mat-Su and Anchorage school district tell me enrollment is on the rise.
But this issue is less about facts than emotion.
The facts are Alaska has the highest rate of chlamydia in the country, with a disturbingly high rate for girls between the ages of 15 and 19, and our teenage pregnancy rate is much higher than the average state.
Nearly all — 93 percent — of Planned Parenthood’s services in Alaska involve testing for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception services, cancer screenings and sex education.
But, Planned Parenthood also performs abortions.
Ironically, the goal of Planned Parenthood and its detractors is the same: fewer unwanted pregnancies. I’m just not convinced that keeping experts out of the classroom, and requiring students to opt in to health class is the way to accomplish that.
Parents absolutely have a right to determine if their child should be taught sex education at school. This bill doesn’t change that. It just makes it a little harder. And it has all the appearance of being more about politics than it does about teaching healthy choices to young Alaskans.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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