Abstinence bill passes Legislature

BISMARCK–After weeks of deadlock in the conference committee, the final version of the abstinence bill breezed through the full Legislature late today.

Here’s what will be added to state law:

Beginning July 1, 2012, each school district and nonpublic school shall ensure that the portion of its health curriculum which is related to sexual health includes instruction pertaining to the risks associated with adolescent sexual activity and the social, psychological and physical health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity before and outside of marriage.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. What do you think about this compromise bill?

Abstinence bill update

BISMARCK–I’ve noticed several people coming to my blog today looking for updates on the abstinence bill.

Nothing has been decided yet. The committee in charge of negotiating the bill has met eight times without coming to a resolution on the matter.

The House is sticking to its position that this is a local control issue and specific curriculum should not be written into state law. The Senate is sticking to its position that specific guidelines are needed so that they’re taught.

Here’s the House version of the bill:

“Beginning July 1, 2012, each school district shall ensure that its curriculum for health includes the exposure of students to abstinence-based concepts.”
 
Here’s the Senate version of the bill:
  
“Beginning July 1, 2012, each school district shall ensure that its curriculum for health has as its objective to teach the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity. The curriculum must:
1. Explain why abstinence from sexual activity until marriage provides safety from sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and other associated health issues;

2. Teach how to reject sexual advances, including self-defense;

3. Inform how drugs, alcohol, irresponsible use of social media, and peer pressure can negatively influence unhealthy sexual decisionmaking and lead to aggressive sexual behavior; and

4. Explain the negative influences of the sex-saturated media that present teen sexual activity as an expected norm with few risks or negative consequences.

—If you were on this conference committee, how would you resolve the differences between the two bills?

Abstinence bill goes to conference committee

BISMARCK–The state House isn’t ready to sign off on the abstinence bill just yet.

The House Education Committee gave a “do not concur” to the bill this morning. Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, said there are questions about the amendments added by the Senate.

This means the bill will go to conference committee, where members of the Senate and the House work out their differences over the bill.

Heading into the Senate, House Bill 1229 simply directed school districts to ensure their health curriculum includes exposing students to abstinence-based concepts by July 2012.

However, a floor amendment added curriculum criteria to the bill, which passed on a 39-8 vote.

The bill now says each school district shall ensure its health curriculum has as its objective to teach the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity.

The curriculum must:

- Explain why abstinence from sexual activity until marriage provides safety from sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and other associated health issues.

- Teach how to reject sexual advances, including self-defense.

- Inform how drugs, alcohol, irresponsible use of social media and peer pressures can negatively influence unhealthy sexual decision making and lead to aggressive sexual behavior.

-Explain the negative influence of the sex-saturated media that present teen sexual activity as an expected norm with few risk or negative consequences.

Kelsch said she didn’t understand what the amendments do and if they mean abstinence-only curriculum would be taught. That wasn’t the intent of the House-approved bill, which also had local control, she said.

Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, a supporter of the bill, said the amendments were not for abstinence-only curriculum, but to make abstinence the primary objective.

The conference committee will likely meet early next week.

Senate passes amended abstinence bill

BISMARCK—The North Dakota Senate has approved specific criteria for abstinence education that they want to see taught in North Dakota schools.

Heading into the Senate, House Bill 1229 simply directed school districts to ensure their health curriculum includes exposing students to abstinence-based concepts by July 2012.

However, a floor amendment added curriculum criteria to the bill, which passed on a 39-8 vote.

The bill now says each school district shall ensure its health curriculum has as its objective to teach the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity.

The curriculum must:

- Explain why abstinence from sexual activity until marriage provides safety from sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and other associated health issues.

- Teach how to reject sexual advances, including self-defense.

- Inform how drugs, alcohol, irresponsible use of social media and peer pressures can negatively influence unhealthy sexual decision making and lead to aggressive sexual behavior.

-Explain the negative influence of the sex-saturated media that present teen sexual activity as an expected norm with few risk or negative consequences.

Sen. Larry Luick, R- Fairmount, proposed the amendment, saying there is “a huge problem” in schools of understanding “the necessity of staying away from sexual activity.”

Sen. Spencer Berry, R-Fargo, also supported the bill, saying it’s important that youth hear the message of health-related issues that can result from sexual activity.

Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, said North Dakota needs the law.

“We need to specify very clearly for our teachers the direction that we want them to go,” she said.

Sen. Layton Freborg, R-Underwood, said he believes in teaching abstinence but said the amended bill is not the answer. Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford, agreed, saying local schools should have say in the content of the curriculum that they’re supposed to teach.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, said the bill is not a statement of policy, but micromanagement from the state Legislature. She called it a “complete overreaction” to the concept of policymaking.

The House now needs to review the amended bill, and legislators need to determine what will be the final version.