Utah Legislature approves bill
limiting sex education
A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the
Utah Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that restricts sex education to
abstinence before marriage and requires students be taught that extramarital sex is a
crime in Utah.
The measure now goes to Gov. Mike Leavitt, who has not announced a
position on it.
The original bill approved by the House last week also banned any
discussion of birth control in public schools. But the Senate on Wednesday amended it to
require that students are taught about the failures of contraception.
Republican state Rep. Bill Wright, who authored the legislation,
said teaching about sex encourages bad behavior.
But Democrats argued the bill ties the hands of teachers and takes
away the rights of parents who want their children to learn about avoiding pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases.
''If this bill becomes law, children are going to learn about this
subject on bathroom walls, on the playground, on TV and on the Internet,'' said Democratic
state Sen. Pete Suazo, who voted against it.
The Senate voted 16-13 in favor of the amended version of the bill,
sending it back to the House which approved it on a vote of 41-33.
A story published today by Reuters Health reports that a majority of
teens in the United States are sexually active.
The most popular sexual activity between teens is oral sex, with 55%
saying they have engaged in this type of behavior. Only 40% said they have had sexual
The information is based on a national survey released this week by
"It's important for teenagers to realize that not everybody's
doing it," said Gayle Forman, survey coordinator and senior writer at Seventeen, in
an interview with Reuters Health. "In the teenager's world there is that
going-all-the-way pressure, and that is where we run into sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) and pregnancy," she said. The initial results of the poll are published in the
April issue of the magazine.
In many cases, boys feel more of the pressure to engage in sexual
behavior than girls, according to the survey, which was conducted by Audits and Surveys
Worldwide after consultation with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit national
health research and educational organization.
Forty-five percent of boys said that sex made them feel like a
"normal teenager" as opposed to 18% of girls who said the same. Twenty-one
percent of boys and 12% of girls said that "fear of being dumped" was one reason
to have sex. Among boys, 19% said peer pressure rather than pleasure motivated their
sexual behavior, while only 9% of girls said the same.
In the survey, more than 1,000 teens in shopping malls were asked to
fill out the sex questionnaire The locale was chosen to provide the boys and girls with a
sense of anonymity so they felt free to be candid when answering questions. Two different
sets of surveys were used for teens from 13 to 15 and 15 to 19, with sensitive topics --
including questions regarding oral sex -- reserved for the older group.
The story says that the survey also found that:
-- 35% of girls use birth control all the time and 20% use it nearly
all the time.
-- 46% of teens always use condoms when they have sexual
-- 69% do not think that teaching kids about birth control
encourages them to have sex.
-- 83% thought sex education in schools should start by age 13.
The results also indicate that 54% of teens have no problem with
homosexuals -- up from 17% in an earlier Seventeen study conducted in 1991. Overall, 15%
said they had some sexual contact with a person of the same gender.