A bill that would provide training for teachers and parents on child sexual abuse and give schools the option to educate students about avoiding abuse cleared its last major hurtle in the state legislature on Tuesday.
House Bill 286, sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero requires the State Board of Education and Department of Human Services to approve the required curriculum by 2016.
Parents have the option to opt their kids out of the instruction if they so choose. That was a sticking point for some lawmakers, including Republican Senator Margaret Dayton, who proposed an amendment to allow parents to opt students in to the program instead.
“I’m not even sure that this should be in the schools and this is the kind of thing that should be taught,” Dayton says. “But if we’re going to put it in the schools, I think we need to recognize that the parents need to be the primary guardian and protector of the child and their innocence and the instruction that they’re getting.”
The amendment was proposed and failed in both the House and Senate chambers. Opponents of the opt-in amendment say they want to protect kids from parents who may be the abusers themselves.
Three lawmakers stood and recounted tales of their own abuse, including Republican Senator Aaron Osmond who assured his colleagues this isn’t a discussion about sex or sexuality.
“This is about helping a child recognize that it’s okay to say ‘no’ and to stop an adult in any setting whether it’s in the home, whether it’s in the school or in any other environment where they feel unsafe, giving them the tools to understand you can push back against an adult,” Osmond says. “You can say that it’s wrong.”
Earlier this session, sexual abuse victims Elizabeth Smart and Deondra Brown of the 5 Browns musical group testified in support of the bill
It passed the Senate by a vote of 20-8. The chamber will vote on it once more before it can go to the governor for his signature.