Debate over sex ed standards shows narrow support | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Setting out standards for sexual education in all grades awaits action from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

Passions on both sides poured out before it narrowly passed the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 818 is now up to the governor. While it doesn’t require an entire sexual education curriculum, it does provides standards for if schools are to teach sex ed. Parents could opt their children out.

State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, during debate on May 28, said the standards the bill allows for describes sex acts in explicit terms some parents find inappropriate.

“It also expands curriculum that allows videos that are actually restricted on YouTube to adults only,” McCombie said. “I’m not going to get into what that is.”

She and other Republicans raised many other concerns about the subject matter that would be laid out for K-12 students.

State Rep. Marcus Evans Jr., D-Chicago, said stories of storks dropping babies off aren’t real and the proposed standards modernize sexual education curriculum to give students accurate information.

“I tell you they will find the information whether it’s accurate or not,” Evans said. “We live in a technology society.”

State Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, supported the bill. The standards, he said, range from teaching about contraception to gender identity and are age-appropriate to inform students.

“That can release them from their shame, fill their emptiness and take away their guilt, and provide power to combat their confusion,” West said.

But not all Democrats were sold on the standards. State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Streamwood, said that things need to be updated, but said graphic depictions of the standards in an all-or-nothing approach were troubling.

“We’re telling schools that ‘if you do not use these standards you can not teach sex ed,’” Crespo said. “That concerns me a bit because I think that we do need sex ed in our schools.”

Crespo was listed as not voting, as were seven other Democrats in the House where it received the minimum 60 votes necessary for passage. Four Democrats in the Illinois Senate were also listed as not voting.

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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