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Kids in Missouri would need permission to take sex ed classes

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By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House Tuesday voted to require public school students to get a permission slip from their parents before taking a sex education class.

Parents can currently remove their children from the classes, but the measure would change it from a opt-out policy to an opt-in policy. Without written permission, students would be kept out of the class.

The measure also seeks to prevent clinics and organizations that provide abortions from giving sex-ed material to schools.

The vote was 92-61. Opponents said the permission requirement likely would exclude the very teenagers who most need the instruction those whose parents are negligent or not involved in their lives. The result would be more teen pregnancies and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, they said.

Rep. Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis) dubbed the bill "the teen endangerment act." Added Rep. Beth Low, D-Kansas City: "This isn't a sex education bill, this is a sex non-education bill."

But sponsoring Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, highlighted the need for the legislation with a story about one of her own children. She became aware her son had been taught at a public school how to use a condom only by asking at dinnertime what he had learned at school that day. "Parents are not the problem, they are the solution," Davis said, and "the best way to encourage parental involvement is to keep them in the loop with what's happening with their kids."

Another part of the bill takes aim at Planned Parenthood affiliates by prohibiting anyone or any organization that provides abortions from teaching sex education classes in public schools, or providing them with course materials. It makes an exception for hospitals.

Davis argued that "public schools, right now, are able to introduce our children to the abortion providers behind the backs of their parents."

Planned Parenthood currently teaches sex education courses when invited by schools, and also makes available books, pamphlets and videotapes for their courses, said Alison Gee, political director for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. Planned Parenthood denounced the bill as a "political cheap shot" aimed only at "scoring points for the anti-abortion, anti-family planning lobby."

Kansas, Arizona, Nevada and Utah also have statewide requirements for schools to obtain parental consent for sex education courses, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a group that favors comprehensive programs.

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