On Thursday, June 25, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 60-55 to concur with a Senate version of a sexual health education bill designed to revamp the state’s curre. After its passage, the bill was sent to the governor.
The Healthy Youth Act (HYA) replaces the state’s current abstinence-until-marriage sex ed curriculum with a more comprehensive abstinence-based education approach. Students grades seven through nine will be taught about the use of condoms and provided more accurate, up-to-date information on sexually transmitted infections and prevention methods.
Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, told Q-Notes that the HYA is “an incredible step forward” and will guarantee “getting lifesaving information to young people in this state.”
The approved bill includes anti-gay language from the state’s abstinence-until-marriage curriculum, calling for local school districts to teach “that a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”
“We are extremely disappointed that the Senate version leaves in the problematic language of the old abstinence-until-marriage law,” Palmquist said on June 24, a day before the House’s concurring vote.
Despite the anti-gay language, advocates say the bill will open the door to more inclusive lessons for all students, including LGBT youth.
During debate in the Senate, the HYA came close to containing even more anti-gay components when Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie, Rowan) offered an amendment that called for prohibiting the promotion or teaching of non-heterosexual relationships. Some legislators questioned whether the amendment might have the unintended effect of prohibiting any counseling for LGBT students.
The amendment read, “Nothing in this act shall authorize the promoting, teaching, condoning, counseling, or referral for counseling other than for heterosexual relationships.”
Brock’s amendment failed 19-28.
According to reports, Gov. Beverly Perdue is expected to sign the bill, one of two highly controversial bills this session. The other, the School Violence Prevention Act, also passed the legislature this week and is expected to be signed by the governor.