SPRINGFIELD — A sex education measure that Republicans asserted was anti-local control and would promote birth control rather than abstinence-only cleared the Illinois Senate on a nearly party-line vote Wednesday.
House Bill 2675 was approved 37-21 with only one Republican voting yes, and three Democrats voting no. Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, voted for the measure, and all area Republicans — Chapin Rose of Mahomet, Dale Righter of Mattoon, and Jason Barickman and Bill Brady of Bloomington voted no.
The bill says that sex education curriculums for grades 6 through 12 in public schools would have to be medically accurate and age appropriate, and that the Illinois State Board of Education would make available resource materials and may take into consideration materials from other states as well as "materials suggested by education experts and other groups that work on sex education issues."
Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, argued that parents and local officials, not the Legislature, should determine how human sexuality is taught.
"I have a cellphone in my pocket. If the Naperville school board members are going to be educating our kids in a way that I think is inappropriate, I call them or I have them removed in the next election," he said. "That's called local control."
Supporters said that the sex education curriculums would continue to say that abstinence from sexual intercourse "is a responsible and positive decision," but that it also would include instruction in contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Righter said "that in order to follow state law," local school districts will have to have sex education programs "talk about condoms, IUDs, the pill. They're going to have to talk about contraception."
But Planned Parenthood of Illinois praised passage of the bill.
"Studies show that sex education that (includes) contraception and disease prevention results in teens who are more likely to delay sexual activity and use protection when sexual activity does occur," said Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. "This bill is a huge step forward in advancing the health and safety of young people in Illinois — while they are teenagers and throughout their adult lives."
The legislation also gives school districts the option of not providing any sex education program.