SPRINGFIELD, IL – Democratic lawmakers meet with advocates to reinstate a proposal to amend requirements for sex education in Illinois public schools.
The plan had strong Democratic support in the Senate last year, but COVID-19 has stalled its efforts.
If approved, the Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children’s Health (REACH) law would require schools to teach inclusive and age-appropriate sex education courses. This would apply to Illinois students in kindergarten through senior year of high school.
Deonn Strathman, Illinois community engagement director for Planned Parenthood, emphasized the importance of teaching children healthy relationships.
“There are things that kindergarten teachers really need to learn,” Strathman said. “You have to learn about safe and unsafe touch. You have to learn names of body parts and learn how to be a good friend. We phrase these things as good friends, but we really talk about things like agreeing and respecting boundaries.”
Strathman added that children who are better educated could prevent sexual assault later in life.
Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) stated that school boards and families would have decision-making powers even though legislation would make these classes mandatory.
“How that is done is up to the local school authorities,” Willis said. “They can have outside speakers, they can do short little lessons, they can make it part of a health class.”
The idea would allow schools to phased out these classes and devote time and resources to creating the programs. MP Willis said the bill would ensure that classes were not discriminated against on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity and disability, among other things.
As of now, sponsors plan to submit the bill before returning to Springfield.