Reaching Parents and Students with Truth: Senate Bill 65
An integral part of all Clarity’s educational curriculum is to encourage students to have open and honest conversations with their trusted, go-to adults about important topics such as human sexuality.
Recently, Senate Bill 65 (SB65) was authored with the intention to ensure parents are aware when curriculum regarding human sexuality is being taught in schools. The hope was that parents would step up to the responsibility to be the primary voice in their children’s life on this critical topic.
Wonderful intentions spurred the writing of this bill. However, current Indiana law “requires a teacher to teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school age children” (see: Indiana Code: http://iga.in.gov/static-documents/2/e/6/6/2e661a52/TITLE20_AR30_ch5.pdf).
The original language of SB65 stated that parents/custodial adults must complete a permission slip before their child could receive any program/education on the topic of human sexuality. This would include Clarity’s I Decide for Me program which teaches holistic health and character and behavior skills to avoid sexual risk taking.
When we learned of this bill, we immediately thought of the many Hoosier students who do not have the advantage of a plugged in parent as well as how, in the hustle and bustle of family life, a permission slip may not get signed/returned to the school, even by a very engaged parent. What then? These students would be dismissed from the valuable life-saving information provided by Clarity’s I Decide for Me Sexual risk avoidance program.
Our concern was that students with parents who are the least engaged would miss the critical health message Clarity has to offer about the intrinsic value and worth of every human life. These students would be dismissed from our positive message simply because a form wasn’t returned. It seemed to us that this legislation actually discriminated against the already disadvantaged student.
A logical win-win was proposed by Rep. Tim Wesco who understood the unintended consequence of well-meaning authored bill. Rep. Wesco proposed a creative way to have parents interested in learning more about the curriculum being taught in their child’s school to be able to make well-informed choices regarding that curriculum while at the same time making sure that students get to hear positive messaging by default, should a form fail to be returned.
According to the amended SB65, schools will now be required to offer a 21 day opt-in only parent permission slip for instruction regarding human sexuality. If a parent permission slip is not returned, a second opt-out form will be sent giving parents 10 days to return a parental permission form to remove the child from the program. By default, should no form be returned after this 31 day procedure, the student will receive the curriculum.
The unintended consequences of the original bill’s language was averted thanks to Sen. Greg Walker, who alerted Clarity to this bill as it was being debated, and Rep. Tim Wesco, who worked thoughtfully and diligently to protect the disadvantaged student.
This new bill provides ample opportunity for concerned parents to investigate and consider the nature of the curriculum on human sexuality being taught to their children in all Indiana schools. Clarity is excited for the opportunity to share more information regarding our program with parents. What a wonderful opportunity to get to engage an audience we have been championing for so long.