Utah Passes ‘Don’t Say Gay or Contraception’ Sex-Ed Bill


Utah lawmakers this week passed legislation that mandates that if sex education is taught at all, it must be abstinence-only. It also bans discussion of homosexuality and contraception in public schools.

The legislation “defines sex education in Utah as abstinence-only and bans instruction in sexual intercourse, homosexuality, contraceptive methods and sexual activity outside of marriage.”

Under the legislation parents must opt in for those sex-ed classes, and schools are permitted to opt out of teaching sex-ed all together.

The scaremongering during the Senate debate on the bill was fairly blatant, and the press notes a lack of actual debating the merits of the proposal. Basically it would seem this was a clear vote on whether or not to impose religious based morality through the school system.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Senate debate over HB363 was relatively short Tuesday afternoon before senators passed it 19-10. In the end, many senators felt schools shouldn’t teach the subject.

“To replace the parent in the school setting, among people who we have no idea what their morals are, we have no ideas what their values are, yet we turn our children over to them to instruct them in the most sensitive sexual activities in their lives, I think is wrongheaded,” said Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden.

A number of lawmakers, all Democrats, rose to speak against the bill Tuesday and ask questions. But Senate bill sponsor Sen. Margaret Datyon, R-Orem, refused to answer questions about the bill, saying “I think everybody basically knows where they are on this issue. Obviously, the senators may speak, but I don’t know that it’s going to be beneficial for me to try to debate or answer questions.”


“I recognize that some parents do not take the opportunity to teach in their own homes, but we as a society should not be teaching or advocating homosexuality or sex outside marriage or different forms of contraceptives for premarital sex,” said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem.

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, said, “Something is amiss when we have to send our kids to school where they want to teach morals and sexuality and then the school sends them back home so the parents can teach them how to read.”

A Democratic proposed amendment to allow discussion of homosexuality if a child initiated the discussion, indeed one that mandated private opinions be left out of the discussion, was defeated.

The legislation has received staunch criticism, with one senator calling it a “mandate against reality,” and Democratic senator Patricia Jones, author of the aforementioned amendment, quoted as saying during the debate:

“We’ve been discussing this as if every child has the benefit of two loving and caring parents who are ready to have a conversation about appropriate sexual activity, and I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case.”

The legislation now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert who has made education a key priority during his tenure.

Tennessee is perhaps most infamous for its proposed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, though Utah’s legislation functionally outstrips the Tennessee version in actively banning discussion of contraception.


Related Reading:

A Fireside Chat with George Takei

Vote on Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Delayed

TN Governor Intervenes Over Don’t Say Gay Bill

Image used under the Creative Commons user license with thanks to barryzee.


Jean D.
Jean Dahlquist4 years ago

You tell them Sally W.

Oh you poor homophobic parents. What are you going to do when your child goes off to college and learns about the real world? I swear, we're becoming different countries even though we're only different states!

John l.
John f5 years ago

SCIENCE is being banned by religion and "Critical Thinking" is already banned by texas.
This is no different than the TALIBAN style of thinking.

Shawn A.
Shawn A.5 years ago

What do you expect from a state that is a Theocracy in all but name. There should be only one set of laws for the country, not Federal, 50 states, and however many territories/protectorates we have. One land, one law. And that law should never involve burying your heads in the sand.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago

Terrible! Insane!

Debbie G.
Debbie G5 years ago

While I agree that parents should be education their children about sex, birth control, STDs, etc., too many don't because they are in denial that teens could even be "doing it". So, I believe our educational system should step up to the challenge. Why have blinders on? Dumb.

Kai Steeves
Kai S5 years ago

This bill reminds me of the sex ed at my old school. We barely touched on STIs (and didn't mention HIV/AIDS at all), no talk of contraception, and no talk of same-sex relationships. Depite my attempts throughout school, whenever we had a class that tqalked about relationships, they refused to cover these topics. And then they wondered why some of the girls in class was well known for having abortions every few months in middle and high school.

Ah well, just another reminder of why I'm going to homeschool any kids I have.

Morice P.
Morice P.5 years ago

••• Respect the PEOPLE. Anyone can make a way, that, anyone can choose it like favorite. The decision is personal. I NEVER see in Holy Bible, Jesus Chirst, fucking disgracing anyone. I NEVER see that. Bro!

Please, ow "the folks", "DON'T SAY GAY" •••

Regards Morice Paccagnella

James Berryhill
James Berryhill5 years ago

George Takei has lent his name Tenn. To say Takei instead of gay,so It's ok to bey Takei. As for condoms and other birth control I hate They will have to relied on parents and churches, being Utah,forget so if you know a kid in Utah just facebook them the facts...

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S5 years ago

Abstinence only doesn't work. Never had and never will!

Michelle J.
Michelle Johnson5 years ago

it's important to support organizations such as FINCA and Heifer that realize the importance of empowering women to economical sustain their families