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Lawmakers debate whether or not consent needs to be taught in Utah intercourse ed courses

Lawmakers debate whether or not consent needs to be taught in Utah intercourse ed courses

Should middle or senior school children learn about consent to sex education, or are these age groups too young?

These are the questions that lawmakers are currently debating in connection with House Bill 177, which would add consent to teaching sex education.

“This is an emotionally charged topic for every side I’ve heard of,” said Rep. Steve Waldrip (R-Weber) during a hearing on the bill earlier this week.

If passed, Utah students would learn early signs of coercion and emotional manipulation.

“We really need to start building these skills with students before they’re in a situation,” said Annabel Sheinberg, Planned Parenthood Utah’s vice president of foreign affairs, who supports consent to sex education.

Sheinberg said it will help young people navigate the ever-expanding digital world. “Especially when someone asks for a photo or a picture of you, he realizes that he can say no.”

Parents remain in control of whether or not their child has sex at school. A 45 minute informed consent form would be given at the intermediate and high school level when the bill goes into effect.

Let’s open our ears and our minds to what we’ve heard from survivors, ”Sheinberg said.

Corinne Johnson is a mother of five and the founder of Utah Parents United, a group that spoke out against an online-only school during the pandemic. Now the group is advocating against including consent in the gender curriculum.

Johnson said the bill will encourage education that violates the current code because children cannot legally consent to sexual activity.

“I know there are so many parents who are concerned about the expansion of comprehensive sex education here in the state of Utah,” said Johnson.

Johnson said teaching risk avoidance and abstinence is a better way to keep children safe.

We teach them how to be safe, we teach them healthy relationships – all of this is already there. We don’t need to give consent, ”said Johnson.

The bill was passed by the committee at the third replacement and is now to be discussed by the whole House.

Johnson says if it does happen she will lobby to stop it in the Senate.