Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Senate Education Committee on Monday sent a bill to the Senate floor that would prohibit any sexual education prior to the fifth grade in public schools.
Sen. Ben Toews, R-Coeur d’Alene, brought SB 1071, adding a line into Idaho’s existing sex ed policy. The state of Idaho does not currently teach sexual education prior to the fifth grade and parents may opt-out of the program.
The bill states “instruction by school personnel or third parties on human sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity may not occur prior to grade 5.”
Toews said the bill is intended “to protect our children, especially in their youngest years of schooling.”
It passed in a 6-2 vote, with only Democrats Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking and Sen. Carrie Semmelroth, both of Boise, voting no.
Chairman Sen. Dave Lent, R-Idaho Falls, said he would support the motion to send the bill to the floor but reserved his right to change his vote.
“I’m concerned this may be sending a message that we do have problems, when we may not,” Lent told the committee.
Ward-Engelking expressed concern about whether a teacher would be allowed to talk to a young girl entering puberty at school.
Toews said he did not believe the bill would apply to feminine hygiene issues.
Toews repeatedly pointed to the City of Boise’s transition report, titled “A More Equitable City for Everyone,” by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean’s office.
Most of the 13-page report focuses on McLean’s goals for creating equity and inclusion in the city.
On page 12, which Toews focused on, there is a goal listed to “Collaborate with the Boise School District to establish sex education at pre-k level – 12th.”
Toews used it as an example of somewhere in Idaho intending to potentially teach pre-K children.
Nancy Gregory, former Boise School District trustee and current president of the Idaho School Boards Association, spoke to the subject at Ward-Engelking’s request in committee.
“It was done with no collaboration with the school district at all,” Gregory said about McLean’s report.
The bill must now go before the full Senate.