We were glad to see the Illinois Senate send Gov. Pat Quinn a bill requiring that school sex ed courses include information about birth control and sexually transmitted disease prevention. Quinn is expected to sign the bill.
First off, the new bill gives parents final say on whether their children participate in the education. While we advocate strong parental involvement in issues of morals, to us sex education is not an "either-or" proposition but a "both" proposition. Youngsters need guidance from parents about values, but then they need age-appropriate, professionally presented information. Abstinence can still be pushed on its merits as the only truly "safe" birth and disease control.
School is supposed to be about access to knowledge, not about limiting information and hoping for the best. That's how we view the "abstinence only" sex ed that Illinois has been offering.
Not everyone gets honest information from their parents about sex. Too often popular media and the Internet are offering our kids guidance on sex, and that sex is almost never "safe." And it's naive to believe all kids will abstain until marriage. They didn't when we were kids and they won't when we're in the grave.
The question is, as a state, do we think it's best to give youngsters all the information and provide them with guidance as to how they should use that information, or to withhold information and hope they don't accidentally become parents too soon or spend their lives on antiretroviral therapy.
We think this is the right move and support Quinn signing the bill.