Universities may pull concurrent enrollment classes over sex ed bill

Posted at 4:31 PM, Mar 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-16 00:16:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some state universities are considering pulling courses from Utah high schools if the governor doesn't veto a bill that requires abstinence-only sex education.

House Bill 363 bans talk of contraception, homosexuality and sex before marriage in sexual education classes in Utah's public schools. It passed both the House and Senate in this year's legislative session amid controversy.

The bill has its supporters in the conservative Eagle Forum and Sutherland Institute and a majority of Republican lawmakers, but educators and many other Utahns are calling for a veto.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, is a former high school teacher. He says HB 363 is bad public policy and strips parents' right to choose for themselves how and what their kids learn about sex in school.

"I voted against the bill. If my children were in school again, I'd want them to have the facts," Briscoe said.

Democrats are now bringing forth one of the "unintended consequences" they spoke of during the legislative session. They say Weber State University is on the list of colleges prepared to remove concurrent enrollment courses from Utah's high schools next year if the abstinence-only sex education bill is passed.

University courses like Child and Family Studies would be pulled from the concurrent enrollment course list because they may mention pre-marital sex or homosexuality, which would be illegal under the new sexual education bill.

"They offer a curriculum college course to high school students that talks about conception, that talks about different kinds of families like gays and lesbian families and if the governor signs HB 363 he'll be denying parents and students the choice of taking these courses," said Briscoe.

Briscoe says the loose language of the bill is to blame for the forced changes.

"When you write a bill that is this poorly written there are unintended consequences to legislation," said Briscoe. "Denying students the opportunity to take college courses in high school is apparently one of the unintended consequences."

Governor Herbert says that he is still considering both sides of the debate and is undecided on whether or not he'll sign the bill.