HB 249 would require parents to "opt-in" their children to any discussion concerning sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. By requiring parents to "opt-in," the bill creates a significant barrier to students receiving crucial education about sexual health and healthy relationships. Parents who face language barriers, miscommunications due to having a demanding schedule, or who are incarcerated or for any number of reasons are not available to opt-in their child are all reasons why students might miss out on educational opportunities. Parents who are not accepting of the LGBTQ+ people also are unlikely to opt-in their children for those lessons preventing students who are the most in need of positive examples of LGBTQ+ icons from learning about the LGBTQ+ community.
Children and teenagers confront a barrage of information and situations related to sexuality. Guidance from families and schools is key in fostering teenagers' healthy sexual development and responsible behavior. Comprehensive sexuality education can be critical in giving young people the information and skills they need to make responsible decisions and to protect themselves. By "comprehensive sexuality education," we mean a thorough, accurate curriculum that examines such subjects as human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior and health, and society and culture. Comprehensive sexuality education is associated with reduced rates of sexual activity, sexually transmitted disease, and unintended pregnancy.
The bill is also vague. Without clarification about what constitutes "sexuality" or what it means for a curriculum to be "substantially focused" on human sexuality, it is impossible to know how the scope of this bill might impact classes outside of a sexual education context. US Government, US History, and Psychology classes all necessarily implicate conversations about gender identity and sex. This bill would prevent students from receiving a complete education about those subjects.
There is already a way for parents to have control over the education that a child receives about human sexuality: Idaho law permits parents to opt-out of classes discussing material that they find objectionable. This bill only creates additional barriers to students receiving important and necessary information.