Lawmakers Push To Give More Experts A Say In Sex Ed

Sep 17, 2015

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Lawmakers want to allow more types of experts to weigh in on sex education materials under a bill that advanced through the House Wednesday.

Under current law, experts in sexual health education are the only experts who can approve materials for sex education courses in public schools. But the bill the House approved Wednesday allows schools to use materials approved by experts in several additional fields.

"It's not just strictly a matter of biology."

An earlier version would have allowed experts to come from any field. But an amendment from Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher says those experts must come from eight specified areas: sexual health education, adolescent psychology, behavioral counseling, human anatomy, biology, medicine, health education and ethics.

"What we have to do is keep strong language with regard to experts in the field of sexual health education. This bill does that," Fisher told fellow lawmakers on the House floor.

Republican Rep. Paul Stam says the addition of new fields will bring in more varied expertise to sex education.

“There are many disciplines that are important. It’s not just strictly a matter of biology," he said on the House floor.

Republican supporters of the change say it will allow schools to use materials backed by certain religious groups that support abstinence-only sex education, such as Focus On The Family.

Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham was one of two House members voting against the bill. She asked Rep. Stam if the bill would allow materials from Focus On The Family in North Carolina Public Schools.

"The answer is yes, if it was also peer-reviewed and based on scientific research," Stam answered. "So the answer is some yes and some no."

The measure also requires schools to teach about human trafficking. It goes back to the Senate for approval of the amended version.