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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Dangerous sex education bill to become law

Legislation


Wisconsin
is poised to gut abstinence education and pave the way for a radical expansion of the kinds of issues that can be discussed in human growth and development classes.

Governor Doyle is prepared to sign approved legislation into law that will require public schools that teach sex education to include instruction about the use of condoms and discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. The new law will be a dramatic departure from current procedures and is sure to anger and upset many parents.

Under current Wisconsin law, local school boards are allowed to determine if and how sex education is taught to students in their school districts. Legislation approved by the state Senate and Assembly that I voted against will eliminate the autonomy local school districts now have to provide the instruction they consider to be the best for their students. School districts will no longer be allowed to teach an abstinence-only curriculum. A wide-ranging sex education curriculum will be established, including non-judgmental instruction on alternative lifestyles and behaviors.

During the 2005 legislative session, I authored legislation that is currently Wisconsin law that requires school boards that choose to provide sex education to present abstinence as the preferred choice of behavior.

I authored the abstinence legislation because there is only one method that is 100 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It is abstinence. That is indisputable. Health professionals agree that abstinence is the healthiest choice for teens. The abstinence law is a common sense approach to an adolescent health issue

In order to make the choice to be abstinent, teens must have access to abstinence instruction and be equipped with accurate information about the consequences resulting from sexual activity. The legislation Governor Doyle signs will make opportunities for teens to hear this critically important message far less likely.

On behalf of a local school district that requested a positive change in the legislation, I proposed an amendment on the floor of the state Senate that would allow a school district that currently offers a comprehensive sex education curriculum and an abstinence-only curriculum to have the option of choosing an abstinence-only program. The school district asking for the amendment now offers the two options to parents. I found their request to be a reasonable compromise. My amendment was rejected by the state Senate along party lines.

Another troubling provision prohibits school districts from being judgmental or biased against sexually active students. My colleagues and I that oppose the legislation emphasize this is a logical scenario to be judgmental. The emphatic instruction to children is that they should not be having sex, period.

A significant change was made to the legislation under an amendment that requires school boards that provide sex education to instruct students about the criminal penalties for engaging in sexual activities involving a child, and sex offender registration requirements. The amendment passed unanimously and is the only bright spot in a highly risky bill.

The new law will be dangerous because it guts abstinence instruction, mandates the instruction of elements of sex education that will make many parents uncomfortable and angry, and removes local control from local school districts. State government should not be telling local school districts and parents it knows best, especially about an issue as sensitive as sex education.

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