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Illinois Democrats hope to extend sex education to Pre-K through 12th grade

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- Illinois schools currently teach sex education to grades 6-12. However, Illinois Democrats are trying to start those discussion during Pre-K.

The proposal would update the Illinois sexual health education standards to be both comprehensive and inclusive. Sponsor Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) said the standards would include LGBTQ health and gender fluidity.

ACLU Illinois explained schools can present the information in any way they choose. Still, Advocacy Associate Chelsea Diza emphasized the information must be medically accurate and age appropriate.

“Our bill does allow for local control and for schools to choose the curriculum that works best for them,” said Diaz. “As long as they are aligned with the standards and the standards were contributed to and reviewed by experts in the fields of public education, child and adolescent medicines, psychology, and public health.”

Diaz also said the State Board of Education supports this bill. However, Republicans strongly oppose the idea. They say parents should decide what is or isn’t appropriate for their child.

The measure states students could learn about everything from sexually transmitted infections to drug and alcohol abuse. Yet, the bill language doesn’t provide a breakdown of what students would be learning at different ages.

Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) argues the bill is too vague and fears it won’t be helpful for the State Board of Education.

“Go back to the drawing board, figure out your definitions,” Reick said. “Put them in statute and let the people of Illinois, through their representative, decide what is and is not going to be the standards that are applied.”

Still, the bill advanced out of committee on a partisan vote, 14-8. The measure will now move to the House floor for more debate.

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Ali Rasper

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