The House Education Committee approved a controversial sex education bill Tuesday, and some members say a few key changes could make them more receptive to the legislation.
Senate Bill 65 says schools can’t teach sex ed without the consent of parents – shifting the current opt-out system to an opt-in – but an amendment to the bill limits how many days a parent has to return a sex education consent form for their child. Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) says he could support the bill as it heads to the full chamber, with a few more adjustments.
“I have no problem with notifying parents and letting parents know what you’re teaching – that’s part of accountability,” Smith says.
Smith says he wants to take a second look at how many days parents have to respond with their consent, right now the bill offers 45 days. It also says if parents don’t respond to a second note home asking for permission the school would be able to teach sex education, no parent signature required. That means reverting back to the state’s current policy, still allowing that parents opt their child out of sex education.
Democrats on the panel say the change makes a bad bill slightly better, but an attempt to protect “spontaneous discussions” in classrooms based on sex education curriculum, failed. Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) says it’s another reason he won’t support the bill.
“I’m going to vote no, without amendment number 20, it’s another bill designed to scare our teachers and our administrators into thinking this topic is so electric it can’t be understood and can’t be taught,” DeLaney says.
The committee also approved legislation to screen students for dyslexia, as more than a dozen parents and teachers attended the meeting to testify in support of the bill.
Another bill requiring all schools to offer computer science courses received overwhelming support in testimony and from members.