A bill implementing a new sexual education curriculum across the state of Illinois has passed in the legislature in spite of massive Republican opposition and is now headed for Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk for signature.
According to Capitol News Illinois, the bill passed the state House on Friday after passing in the Senate the week prior.
The bill will create a new “personal health and safety” curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade and a “sexual health education” for sixth through twelfth grades.
The bill passed despite intense resistance from conservatives over curriculum guidelines touted as “culturally appropriate,” which will include education on “gender identities, different types of families, sexual orientation, consent and a woman’s options during pregnancy.”
Capitol News continues:
One issue at the heart of the contention is what Republicans have referred to as the bill’s “all-or-nothing” approach.
Under current law, parents and guardians may opt their student out of sex education classes with no penalty. That provision would remain in the new legislation.
While a previous version of the legislation set a mandatory deadline by which all schools would be required to teach sex ed, the most recent amendment allows each individual school district to determine whether it will teach the subject.
However, if a district decides to offer sexual health education, the curriculum must use all or part of the curriculum established by the bill.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate argued school districts downstate and in rural areas would choose to not offer sex education rather than choosing to offer a curriculum that is contrary to the values and beliefs of their residents. They said it would result in fewer students having access to essential sexual health information.
The legislation’s other guidelines require that the new sex-ed curricula be aligned with National Sex Education Standards, an initiative by private organizations to provide “guidance on essential minimum core content and skills needed for sex education that is age-appropriate.”
Aligning state education standards with out-of-state guidelines designed by private groups, some of whom are listed in the standards as representing Planned Parenthood, was a major point of contention for the state’s Republican lawmakers.
As for the actual content of the guidelines, students will be required to identify and name parts of the human body, including genitalia, and be able to define “gender, gender identity, and gender roles” by the end of second grade, as well as consent, personal boundaries, child sexual abuse, and how to report child sexual abuse to a trusted adult.
The guidelines will require children to learn where they can access short-term and long-term contraception and what methods of contraception can be obtained without a prescription by the end of eighth grade.
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