House Bill 286 passed a final vote in the Utah House of Representatives 71-0 on Wednesday, after an amendment in the Senate required it to come back one last time. The bill creates a program to educate school children about sexual abuse. It passed a preliminary vote in the Senate on Wednesday, but when it came up for a final vote, Republican Senator John Valentine added an amendment. It put language in the bill citing another section of state code that requires a parents’ permission to discuss any one of a long list of items:
On the Senate floor, Valentine told his colleagues, “The subject matters include political affiliations, mental or psychological problems, sexual behavior, orientation or attitudes.”
Without the amendment, the bill would have gone to the governor for his signature. With it, HB 286 had to go back to the House for at least one more procedural vote.
Kristin Parry was part of a large group at the Capitol advocating for the bill. She was disappointed by what she saw as a strategy to require parents to opt in to the program instead of having it taught to children unless parents opt out.
Parry told KUER, “We don’t have to teach the mechanics of anything sexual for them to understand that when they are being hurt, they can stand up and say no.”
The House sponsor, Democratic Representative Angela Romero, was confident the bill had enough support to make it through.
This is an important bill," Romero told KUER. "We’ve invested a lot of time as have advocates here who have supported it as well as members in the House.”
Senator Valentine says Utah schools would be bound by the current law anyway, and he wanted to make sure they understand what it requires.