13 April 2023
A bill is proposing to flip Nevada’s long-standing policy requiring parents to consent or opt in for their children to receive sex education curriculum to instead opt out. Nevada is one of five states that requires parents to enroll their children into sex education instruction.
Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (D-Las Vegas) said her bill, AB357, could potentially allow more students to access “factual, evidence-based” sex education instruction in order to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. She cited examples of students with unengaged parents or guardians as well as homeless youth who might not have an adult who can sign them up for the instruction.
Under the bill, Bilbray-Axelrod said parents will be notified of when the sex education instruction will be given and reserve the right to refuse it at any time.
“If you don’t think this is appropriate, by God, opt them out,” she said. “But those other kids who aren’t lucky enough to have a parent who’s active in their life every day, let’s give them every chance we can.”
In 2008, Nevada had the nation’s second highest teen pregnancy rate at 90 pregnancies per 1,000 girls 13-18 years old. However, the state’s teen birth rate has decreased over the years. In 2020, the state’s birth rate for teens ages 15 to 19 was 16.8 per 1,000 females. Two years ago, Nevada ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for syphilis cases.
The bill faces an uphill battle. Similar efforts in previous legislative sessions failed amid strong opposition from parents who believe sex education is inappropriate in school settings and should be left up to families.
Janine Hansen, state president of the Nevada Families for Freedom advocacy group, called the bill “anti-family” and “anti-parent.”
A lobbyist for the Clark County School District said it is in support of an opt-out system, but is taking a neutral stance on the bill.
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