(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill that requires students to learn about the dangers of sexting in school.
Pritzker signed House Bill 24 into law. The legislation implements a course on sexting for schools that have existing sex education classes for grades 6 through 12.
The bill does not make sex education a requirement at schools across the state. The bill will only be required for schools that already teach sex education courses and parents can opt their children out of the class if they want.
State Rep. Maurice West has been vocal about the importance of the bill for students at a young age because of the dangers of sexting and the problems it can cause students.
“This bill became even more important during the pandemic, I have been reached out to by teachers about having issues with students sexting,” West said. “As technology advances, students need to know the consequences of sexting.”
The law also includes courses on the long-term consequences of sharing or sending suggestive or sexual content online.
Laurie Higgins, of the Illinois Family Institute, has raised concerns about the measure. She said there is no need for the law and that it is not the right for schools to be teaching these subjects to 11-year-old kids.
“This applies to children as young as 11 years old, I know a fair number of 11-year-olds who do not even know what sexting is,” Higgins said. “For parents that have protected their children from this, now have to deal with their schools teaching these things and we believe that isn’t right.”
West has said that it is age-appropriate for 11-year-old students.
“I would say that looks at the 6th graders we have in front of us, and ask those students to show you their phones, we prepare these children about the serious problems that can come from sexting,” he said
Pritzker signed the measure.
“Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons like consent and internet safety are taught in schools,” Pritzker said. “By working together we will continue to strengthen our education system and deliver the bright future our kids deserve”.
The law goes into effect immediately.