Opposition to HB 363 has more to do with ideology than facts

STUDYMidway through the legislative session, Sutherland Institute made a GRAMA request of the state Department of Health asking it to provide us with data it has collected on the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies for each of Utah’s school districts.

The debate over HB 363, the sex education bill, was raging at the time and part of the debate centered on the effectiveness of abstinence-only and contraception-based curricula. The broad contention is that contraception education actually works better than teaching kids the personal and social skills of how to make good decisions to avoid premarital sex.  Read more

My case for HB 363 (sex ed bill)

The new sex education proposal, HB 363, has drawn lots of attention (and emotion) on all sides. And for good reason. HB 363 obviously represents more than a sex education proposal. It represents another front in the culture war over Utah values, how we see ourselves as human beings, how we view the proper role of government and, ultimately, how we view freedom.[pullquote]Sex education in our public schools should address the choice, not the means. Furthermore, it should prioritize helping us to become our better selves, not our selfish selves.[/pullquote]

This is my case for HB 363.

The most important idea to understand about lasting freedom is that it requires us to be our better selves. Most of my arguments with libertarians are over this point. Freedom is not simply “individual liberty” or “economic freedom.” Those qualities are important components of freedom, but incomplete. A complete definition is that freedom is the sum of liberty and virtue. Freedom requires human beings to be their better selves. Of course, implied is that we know what it means to be a human being.  Read more

Capitol Daily Video: abstinence-only education

Rep. Bill Wright’s proposal to limit sex education in public schools to an abstinence-only curriculum passed the Senate today 19-10-0. HB 363 will now go to the governor for his signature. Watch this video report to learn more about the bill:


Halt government funding to Planned Parenthood in Utah?


As we wrote on August 30, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah receives an average of $152,050.07 each year in state and federal funds. Representative Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) plans to propose legislation that would restrict Planned Parenthood’s access to government money. We interviewed Wimmer and Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Utah, to hear their perspectives on the proposal. Watch this video:


What do you think? Should the Legislature block the state from giving government funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers? Read more

Sex and confusion: Tribune article is a puzzler


Selecting tidbits from the School Health Profiles 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Salt Lake Tribune’s recent article, “Sex and chocolate: Utah kids know a lot about one, not the other,” laments the fact that “Utah schools have nearly barred the topic of safe sex. Utah had the lowest percentage of high schools in which students were taught these points: The efficacy of condoms, the importance of using condoms consistently and correctly, how to obtain condoms and how to use condoms correctly.”

The Tribune then explains why: “Utah law forbids the advocacy or encouragement of contraception in public schools.” The Tribune reporter does not, however, explain what Utah law does encourage with regards to sex education. Read more

Planned Parenthood: See what $152K in taxes fund each year


Utah Representative Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) has said he wants to stop the flow of money from the state to Planned Parenthood, which many other states have recently done. In May, The Salt Lake Tribune provided a brief sketch of the government funding Utah’s chapter of Planned Parenthood receives, and other news outlets have provided related information, but these reports have largely been incomplete or inaccurate.

In this post, I’ll outline Planned Parenthood funding in detail. My sources are the state’s transparency website (transparent.utah.gov), contracts between the state and Planned Parenthood, and conversations with staff from the Utah Department of Health (DOH). Read more

The solution to early puberty: more talk about sexuality – or more involved parents?

On Thursday, the Deseret News ran a story about recent reports that say the average age of puberty in girls seems to be falling, with some experiencing it as early as 7 or 8.

Photo credit: Steve Polyak

The article includes both good and bad advice about a response to the phenomenon. The good advice is that parents should talk to their children about the issue “to help them more easily navigate the changes they will soon experience” and to teach them to be more health-conscious in general.

The bad advice, perhaps predictably, comes from a representative of Planned Parenthood who is quoted as saying: “We advocate [boys and girls] take the [sexuality education] lessons together. When they’re in a room together, hearing the experiences of one another, that’s a huge opportunity for perspective-taking.” The story goes on to summarize her view: “Slonaker encourages this to help avoid the creation of taboos and has found that this method leads to a more open conversation between the sexes.” Read more