South Carolina makes the rest of the country look like rocket scientists.
More uniform sex-ed standards raise fears
Posted: February 26, 2014
By Sarita Chourey
Morris News Service
COLUMBIA -- Mountain Dew doesn’t prevent pregnancy.
The fact hasn’t changed, despite what one South Carolina teacher has been telling students.
Lawmakers on Tuesday labored for the second year over a bill to make sure acceptable standards of reproductive health are taught to public school students.
Earlier testimony revealed that some teachers have been uttering bizarre statements in class. Among them: That Mountain Dew doubles as a contraceptive, and that the only thing better than sex is macaroni and cheese.
Still, a bill to standardize the teaching of reproductive health continues to be a tough sell. Some lawmakers feared that teaching students about the consequences of sex would either numb them to the risks or encourage their interest.
Proponents said the bill, H. 3435, doesn’t mean South Carolina will begin teaching sex ed. It’s been in place for years, but neither updated nor uniformly followed. The Comprehensive Health Education Act has not been revised for 25 years.
“What this bill does, it says ‘We don’t care about your values.’ We’re going to impose that across the entire state,” said Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Anderson, a chief opponent of the bill.
“Are we setting our children up for failure by introducing them too much and numbing them to the severity of this?
Putnam acknowledged that some school districts may not be teaching the subject appropriately, but “that’s up to the local counties, the local communities to get involved. It’s not up to me to oversee that.”
Chairman Andy Patrick, a Hilton Head Republican, challenged him to show how the bill wrests local control from communities. He said the state Department of Education would adopt a menu of acceptable curricula, while local committees would be the ones to review the materials give the go-ahead for use in a particular district.
Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, argued for its passage and pointed out that South Carolina ranks third in the nation for per capita sexually transmitted diseases in those ages 15-19.
“While it may not be everything that everybody would have liked to have had, I think it strikes a good balance between what we need to make sure there is uniformity and consistency from district to district in what we are instructing our children in the area of health education,” she said.
Lawmakers who voted against the bill were Republicans: Samuel Rivers of Goose Creek, Don Wells of Aiken, Bill Taylor of Aiken, and Joshua Putnam of Anderson.
Those who voted in favor were: Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head, and Democrats Jerry Govan of Orangeburg, Harold Mitchell of Spartanburg, and Brown of Hollywood.