Michigan House Democrats have introduced a slate of bills to provide what they describe as “much-needed updates to the sexual education curriculum” taught in the state’s public schools.
House Bills 5549, 5500, and 5501 were introduced Wednesday by Reps. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods), Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), and Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids). The three bills would amend the Revised School Code by adding “an affirmative consent section,” requiring sex education to be “inclusive, medically accurate and objective,” and expanding HIV and AIDS education.
“While it is unfortunate that our current sexual education curriculum is not mandated to be inclusive, medically accurate and objective, it is far from surprising,” Hood said in a press release. “For years our state has neglected teaching sexual health to the detriment of our children. It is time that we bring our sex education curriculum into the 21st century and provide our children the critical lessons they need before they become sexually active.”
Of the three bills, House Bill 5549 would make some of the most drastic changes to the sex ed curriculum, requiring all instruction to “include comprehensive sexuality education that is medically accurate and age-appropriate.”
A group in Minnesota hosted a rally last September on the steps of the State Capitol after lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill. The group said that comprehensive sex ed, called CSE for short, teaches children that they “can have any kind of sex anywhere, anytime, with anybody, at any age, and it’s perfectly normal,” The Minnesota Sun reported.
The Michigan bill states that all sex ed “instruction and materials must affirmatively recognize that individuals have different sexual orientations and, when discussing or providing examples of relationships and couples, must be inclusive of same-sex relationships.”
“Instruction and materials must teach pupils about gender, gender expression, and gender identity, and must explore the harm of negative gender stereotypes,” the bill adds.
The bill further mandates that sex education curricula “must not teach or promote religious doctrine.”
“Instruction on pregnancy must be an objective discussion of all legally available pregnancy outcomes, including parenting, adoption, abortion, and the surrendering of a child, and the importance of prenatal care,” says the bill.
Teachers would be required to inform students about “resources related to sexual and reproductive health care” and their “legal rights to access those resources.”
All three bills were referred to the House Education Committee for a hearing.
Taryn Gal, the executive director of the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health , praised the bills in a Wednesday statement.
“For a long time, youth have been telling us that they want and need survivor-centered and consent-infused sexual health education in Michigan,” said Gal. “Consent is a critical piece of medically accurate, research-informed, developmentally appropriate, inclusive and affirming, non-shaming, and trauma-informed sexual health education and Michigan students have a right to learn about it.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Classroom” by the US Department of Education. CC BY 2.0.