The Ohio House of Representatives is considering a bill that would require public schools that teach sex education to include information about contraception. Currently, that’s optional for local school districts and many choose to teach abstinence only. One Northeast Ohio high school student testified in support of the proposed change at a hearing Tuesday, February 23rd, in Columbus. ideastream®’s Ida Lieszkovszky reports.
One thing you can say about Daniel Sparks, a junior at Parma High School, is that he is persistent. When a coalition of women’s rights groups and others campaigned last year for a change in Ohio’s sex ed law, Sparks was right there with them and testified before lawmakers in Columbus. The bill got nowhere but supporters are at it again and so is Sparks, testifying this week. Sparks’ outrage stems in part from his homosexuality. He says; to teach abstinence until marriage leaves him and other gays out of the picture.
Sparks: As a gay student, how can I be expected to uphold a standard of abstinence-until-marriage when I live in a state where I cannot marry?
Sparks says for the past 18 months he’s e-mail, called, and sent letters to members of the Parma school board and administration hoping to get a meeting about broadening the schools sex ed policy. Last week he wore a t-shirt that read “condoms save lives,” but that too didn’t win him an audience with school administrators. So this week he showed up at a meeting of the school board to protest what he says is the school’s education about morals but not about sex.
Sparks: I don’t have sex but I think safe sex is pretty awesome. So it’s like if you want to do that, if you want to have sex, do it safely.
House Bill 316 would require all Ohio Public Schools that teach sex-ed to teach a comprehensive model, including information about contraceptives. Peggy Pecchio of Operation Keepsake, a group that teaches abstinence-centered sex-ed in 170 Ohio schools, opposes the bill.
Pecchio: What it’s doing is it’s really taking away parental choice.
Actually, the proposed law would allow parents to keep their kids out of sex-ed classes altogether if they objected to the content. But statehouse observers say the odds of its passage aren’t much better this year than last.