Senate committee passes bill to ban sex, gender identity instruction before fifth grade in Idaho

by Laura Guido

BOISE — The Senate Education Committee voted 6-2 Monday to pass legislation prohibiting sex education of all types before fifth grade.

SB 1071 would prohibit instruction related to human sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity to students under fifth grade.

“The goal is to maintain children’s innocence during the most vulnerable and formative years of their life,” bill sponsor Sen. Ben Toews, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the committee.

He said he didn’t think this was a widespread concern in Idaho, but took up the issue when a resident sent a copy of the City of Boise’s Transition Committee report, called “A More Equitable City for Everyone,” which was completed when Mayor Lauren McLean first took office.

One of the goals listed in the committee recommendations was to collaborate with the Boise School District “to establish sex education at pre-k level — 12th.”

Former president of the Boise School District school board Nancy Gregory, who is current president of the Idaho School Boards Association, said the report was not done with school district input and she didn’t find sex education in the curriculum before fifth grade in Boise schools.

Two people testified on the bill, one for and one against.

Conrad Woodall, director of Parents’ Rights in Education in Idaho, said he supported the bill because student success is tied to age-appropriate instruction.

“There is an age for sexuality, 12 to 18, that’s when biology and psychology start to come together,” Woodall said.

Emilia Connelly opposed the bill, because she said it was “overly broad.” She said it could hurt some children to not be able to instruct on sexual orientation.

“Our kids are not dumb,” Connelly said, “they notice when a classmate has different shoes or glasses or two moms … as adults, we all know that having two moms or two dads is not grounds for bullying.”

She worried that teachers wouldn’t be able to address this type of bullying under the law.

“How can a teacher protect a child when they can’t even acknowledge the reason for the harm?” She asked.

The two Democrats on the committee, Sens. Janie Ward-Engelking, Boise, and Carrie Semmelroth, Boise, voted against the bill. Ward-Engelking, who is a retired teacher, said she had concerns the language might prohibit teachers from discussing puberty and feminine hygiene to girls who menstruate before fifth grade or that it might prevent “stranger danger” instruction. Toews responded that he didn’t think those discussions or instruction would be covered by the bill.

Semmelroth, who works in education, said she hadn’t heard that this is a problem in schools and was concerned “a whisper is being used to create legislation.”

Chairman Dave Lent, R-Idaho Falls, said he would vote in favor Monday but may change his mind for the full vote.

“I’m concerned that this may be sending a message that we do have problems, when in fact, we may not,” Lent said.

SB 1071 will go to the Senate floor for debate and vote.

Senate committee passes bill to ban sex, gender identity instruction before fifth grade in Idaho | Regional News |

Photo Credit:

The Idaho State Capitol building can be seen through the trees of Cecil D. Andrus Park in downtown Boise on Jan. 17. Brian Myrick / Idaho Press

#SexEducation, #Education, #Students, #Idaho, #awareness, #HistoryInTheMaking, #InterestingFacts, #News, #NonFiction, #Politics, #UnitedStates

Published by VintageDava

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