Amendment to sex ed. bill could lead Illinois schools to adopt national standards

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 6:01 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - An amendment to an Illinois House Bill is making its way through the legislature and would mandate Illinois schools offer sex education classes that align with national standards.

When Senate Bill 818 was introduced in 2021, some lawmakers went as far as calling it a perversion but given the number of opted out at the time, they weren’t alone. Now, a mandate is on its way to the Senate floor to take away this option.

Experts argue that if you don’t teach children about proper sex education, it will lead to a lot of problems down the road.

“When you think about it, we don’t have a choice about whether these kids are gonna learn about sex ed. because they’re gonna learn about it, they are gonna find out about it,” said Marcia Burke, a health studies and sexuality instructor at Northern Illinois University.

Burke thinks schools do not protect children when they opt out of sex education classes. In fact, it puts students at risk.

“What we have a choice is, how they learn about it, how they learn about it in a safe environment and the proper resources to go to,” she told 23 News.

The new potential amendment to House Bill 5188 was introduced by a democratic state senator, but some local leaders in the same party plan on voting no.

“I think each school board is elected by the people, and what the people in Chicago want is not necessarily what people in the Belvidere public schools or Rockford public schools want,” said State Rep. Dave Vella.

However, Burke, who worked as a teacher in public and private schools, says not teaching it at all can have dire consequences for students, recalling a time when several of her students got pregnant at once.

Burke recalls “Some of them said, ‘well I wasn’t thinking.’ And some said, ‘I can’t get pregnant if we have sex standing up, I can’t get pregnant if we do it the first time.’”

Burke says the classes won’t just lessen the chances of pregnancy, but also decrease the rate of STI’s and sexual abuse because people will know how to properly act when they are in that setting.

The amendment now heads to the Senate floor, then to the House. Some lawmakers, including Vella, stated they would not vote in favor of it.