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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Okla. House Rejects Bill Requiring Parental Consent Before Minors Receive Sex Education

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Okla. House Rejects Bill Requiring Parental Consent Before Minors Receive Sex Education
[March 14, 2008]

The Oklahoma House on Wednesday voted 51-50 to reject a bill (HB 2628) that would have required parental consent before children could receive sex education in public schools, the AP/Muskogee Phoenix reports. Currently, Oklahoma school districts send "opt out" forms to parents of children enrolled in classes that provide sex education.

Rep. George Faught (R), sponsor of the bill, said he wanted an "opt in" provision so that parents would know in advance that their children would be enrolled in sex education classes and would not receive instruction the parents did not approve of. Opponents of the bill said the measure would make it more difficult for children to receive sex education in the state, which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. Oklahoma also has the 12th highest percentage for repeat births to teenage mothers in the country, according to a study conducted by the research organization Child Trends.

Rep. Doug Cox (R), a physician and opponent of the measure, said 86 out of 1,000 births in the state are to teenagers, and that 49% of teens in Oklahoma have sex between the ninth and 12th grades. He added that teen pregnancy is the top reason girls drop out of public schools in the state. Other opponents questioned why it was needed since the primary purpose of sex education in the state is to teach abstinence. Faught held the measure for reconsideration after the vote, which allows him to ask the House to vote on it again (AP/Muskogee Phoenix, 3/13).