Sex ed bill sidelined but not defeated

A bill that would have mandated a public school sex education curriculum troubling to many Catholic parents has been sent to study committee. The development represents a “substantial setback” for the bill’s upporters, according to the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC).

In a Feb. 12 statement, the MCC, the public policy arm for the four dioceses of the Commonwealth, also cautioned that the legislation could appear in other forms during this term.

Ed Saunders, director of the MCC, told The Pilot that his organization is pleased with the outcome.

“The Education Committee did not act too quickly and push this bill forward,” he said. “The fact that they sent it to study indicates that it has some far-reaching effects that need to be looked at more closely.”

Care for Youth, a coalition organized by Planned Parenthood, is seeking passage of the Health Education Bill. The coalition involves numerous groups that believe teens should have the choice to engage in “consensual” premarital sex, use contraception and obtain abortions, the statement said.

The bill has been promoted as an opportunity for children to learn about good nutrition, exercise and avoiding substance abuse. However, the bill also contained a mandate for all schools at all grade levels to teach about “sexuality” and “reproductive health” issues, including how to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge.

The MCC had urged concerned parents and citizens to contact their legislators and express their opposition to the bill that would mandate teaching in conflict with the values and principles of the Catholic faith.

“One of the reasons that contributed to this bill going to study was the phone calls, e-mails, letters that were made by many people,” said Saunders. “Those people need to be thanked for their efforts in getting the Legislature’s attention.”

The Joint Committee on Education sent the bill to study, and it “likely will die at the end of the legislative session,” the statement said.

Saunders urged voters not to “sit back and rest” but instead continue to converse with their elected officials about their concerns.

The MCC also warned that “the battle is not over” and that supporters will “undoubtedly” try to put the language in the House or Senate budget bills that will be debated in the coming months.

“That means the sex education issue remains on the front burner, requiring continued grassroots vigilance and action,” the statement said. “Stay tuned for further direction.”