Fair: Potential effects of SC sex-ed bill not at all clear

June 8, 2014 

SC Sen Mike Fair

— South Carolina’s Comprehensive Health Act became law approximately 25 years ago and requires the schools to teach sex education that stresses abstinence and family planning. The teachers frankly have an impossible mandate, but they do an extraordinary job. The incidence of teen pregnancy continues to decline in the state but not nearly fast enough.

The problem is that too many kids are placing an unnecessary hurdle in the path of their growth to adulthood by becoming sexually active at ages much too young. Biblical principles are the best defense, but the courts won’t allow the Bible to be taught in the classrooms. So each major aspect of the sex-ed instruction was intended to help equip those who should not be sexually active to deal with a culture in which epicureanism rules.

With that in mind, we need to be very careful about changing the law.

Recently, the Senate was asked to pass H.3435, which mandated “medically accurate” information in the Comprehensive Health Act. Our school district in Greenville has echoed school districts around the state by saying the medical information it gives in sex-ed classes already is medically accurate, and I believe it. The school districts ask what this bill mandates that they are not already doing.

No satisfactory answer was given by the proponents of the bill in Senate hearings. Therefore, I objected to the bill. I will consult with our school district so as not to cause any unintended consequences, and I will file a new bill next year that says medical information must be medically accurate. That is different than saying all information must be medically accurate.

Some information does not need a medical template placed on it. One example of this is pregnancy prevention, which includes items of instruction that are not medical in nature. There may be other legitimate items of instruction deleted if this bill had become law. The bill is not clear.

Medically accurate medical information is not just a good idea; it is critical. However, I believe that H.3435 is an unnecessary intrusion into a law that appears to be working. Furthermore, the bill needs to be analyzed completely for unintended consequences that came to the fore in testimony in the Senate. Next year, the issue will be thoroughly vetted.

Sen. Mike Fair

Greenville

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