All Minnesota students would learn about pregnancy prevention, gender identity and the need for consent ahead of intimacy under a sex-ed requirement proposed by Democratic lawmakers.
The legislation, which passed a House committee Friday, directs the commissioner of education to come up with models for “comprehensive” sexual education for all elementary and secondary schools in the state by 2021. Currently, there is no state standard for sex-ed instruction.
The courses would need to cover human anatomy and sexual development and a range of methods for preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases at levels appropriate for various grade levels. Discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity and where to find services for sexual and reproductive health, dating violence and sexual assault would also be included.
Opponents say the legislation goes too far. Minnesota Family Council CEO John Helmberger said that while he supports access to “accurate and age-appropriate information about health and how their bodies function,” the group opposes the inclusion of issues like sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This is deeply concerning to many Minnesota parents who believe that if it is necessary to introduce young children to these issues, it should be done at home,” he said in a statement. “Minnesota Family Council opposes any legislation that seeks to normalize unhealthy sexual behaviors for young students and undermines the values parents work to instill in their children."
Sarah Stoesz, president of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, said in addition to preventing STDs and pregnancy, such programming will “equip young people with knowledge and communication skills for healthy, consensual relationships throughout their lives.”
“Young people are our state’s most valuable resource and they deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate information about their health and bodies,” she said.