CARSON CITY — In a strictly party-line vote of 26-15, Democrats passed a bill in the Assembly on Tuesday that would require the updating of sex education courses taught in Nevada’s public schools.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said the curriculum for sex education is 30 years old and he could not find information that sex education is taught in one-third of schools, even though it is a legal requirement.
But Republicans said what should be taught in sex education should be left to parents and local school boards, not a statewide academic council.
“It is wrong to conclude the state knows better than Nevada parents what is best for their children,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno.
He said Assembly Bill 230 would give preference to “one advocacy organization” on what is taught.
Assemblyman Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas, added that what is taught in Washoe County might not be appropriate in Esmeralda County. Reno lies in Washoe County, the second most populous in the state. Esmeralda, in central Nevada, is the least populated county in the state.
Conservative family groups have complained that the bill would let Planned Parenthood push for instruction in birth control and how to acquire abortions.
But Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, pointed out that the final decisions on courses are left to local school districts and parents can “opt out” their children from the classes. Classes also must be “age appropriate.”
Bobzien said Nevada has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate and among the highest (16th) sexually transmitted disease rates.
Flores noted she was raised by a single father who worked all the time and did not always have time for his children.
“I did not have an appropriate role model,” said Flores, who recently admitted she had an abortion as a teenager.
“We have an obligation to step up with information so teens can make good decisions for themselves.”
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.