By Tim Ravndal
Each of the Montana School Districts are faced with a new call for a curriculum that provides for a new approach for Sex Education. Across America there is a push to incorporate multiple different levels of sex education including but not limited to LGBTQ. So the question is begged who is in control of that curriculum and how should Montana move forward with this challenge?
The Montana Legislature is tackling this issue in a couple different bills that are moving forward through the process. Most all of the citizens we questioned on this subject resoundingly stated that the decisions on sex education for their children must be made at home.
Providing a body of elected or appointed officials to make decisions for children often removes the foundation of the family. The inability in today’s society for parents to be fully engaged in the education of their children has opened the door to what is known as indoctrination. Taking a personal belief instituted in the system becomes problematic at best and a tragedy in children at worst.
Senator Carry Smith from Billings introduced SB99 to deal with this problem in modern education. SB99 is drafted to set parameters for k-12 human sexuality education. In the bill the advancement of a sex education curriculum would require the school district to obtain “Written Consent” from a parent or guardian before instructing students in human sexuality education. The law would also require the school district to inform a parent or guardian when events or courses on human sexuality would be held or taught.
The new law if passed would in essence prohibit a school district from allowing any abortion services provider or other sex education entities to offer materials or instruction within the boundaries of the school.
The new law will amend Montana law 20-5-103, that provides parents and/or guardians to be in the drivers seat in deciding if their child can or must be excused from curriculum. Section 2 will be added to the law to clarify the authority of the parents/guardians in the authority over education of their children.
Excused absences from curriculum requirements — notice — prohibited activities. (1) A school may not allow a child to attend a course of instruction, a class period, an assembly, an organized school function, or instruction of any type that involves human sexual education, human sexuality issues, or information regarding sexual acts unless that child’s parent or guardian agrees in writing to allow the child to attend the instruction. Pursuant to 20-5-103, a child is excused from participating in the instruction unless the child fails to attend after the parent or guardian has agreed in writing to allow the child’s attendance.2) Any school implementing or maintaining a curriculum, providing materials, or holding an event or assembly that involves human sexual education, human sexuality issues, or information regarding sexual acts, whether introduced by school educators, administrators, or officials or by guests invited at the request of the school, shall adopt a policy ensuring parental or guardian notification no less than 48 hours prior to holding an event or assembly or introducing materials for instructional use.(3) A school district shall notify the parent or guardian of each student enrolled in the district or school of:(a) the basic content of the district’s or school’s human sexuality instruction intended to be taught to the student; and(b) the parent’s or guardian’s right to include the student in the district’s or school’s human sexuality instruction.(4) A school district shall make all curriculum materials used in the district’s or school’s human sexuality instruction available for public inspection prior to the use of the materials in actual instruction.(5) A school district or its personnel or agents may not permit a person, entity, or any affiliate or agent of the person or entity to offer, sponsor, or furnish in any manner any course materials or instruction relating to human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases to its students or personnel if the person, entity, or any affiliate or agent of the person or entity is a provider of abortion services.
Under the current law the aspect of sex education is under the control of the school board. Many parents are not able to participate in the process at the district level and are often unaware of what is being brought forward. If SB99 passes and is signed into law, the children’s education in these matters will provide for the parents and guardians to “OPT IN” to any of this type of training or education. Without opting in, the shcool district would be in violation of the parent/guardian rights by forcing sex education on the children without consent.
Anyone wishing to weigh in on the legislation is encouraged to contact the members of the SENATE EDUCATION AND CULTURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE The committee held the first hearing on February 3rd 2021 and will move for executive action in the coming days.
Salomon, Daniel (R) ‑ Chair https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6940Tempel, Russ (R) ‑ Vice Chair https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6808McClafferty, Edie (D) ‑ Vice Chair https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6884Bogner, Kenneth (R) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6809Hertz, Greg (R) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6818Manzella, Theresa (R) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6939O’Brien, Shannon (D) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6887Regier, Keith (R) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6932Sweeney, Mark (D) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6885 Webber, Susan (D) https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-information/roster/individual/6793
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