BISMARCKâ€”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 â€œa huge problemâ€ in schools of understanding â€œthe necessity of staying away from sexual activity.â€
Sen. Spencer Berry, R-Fargo, also supported the bill, saying itâ€™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.
â€œWe need to specify very clearly for our teachers the direction that we want them to go,â€ 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 theyâ€™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 â€œcomplete overreactionâ€ 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.