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House Bill 456: Another Terrible Idea

Perhaps the home school coalition should visit a high school or have graduated from one before they write legislation regarding education. House Bill 456, if passed, will take a reasonable balance between the interests of sensitive parents and the reality of education and turn it into an unworkable mess of lawsuits and distraction from education.

If passed, HB 456 will put the following into Montana Law:

A SCHOOL MAY NOT ALLOW A CHILD TO ATTEND a course of instruction, a class period, an assembly, an organized school function, or instruction of any type that involves human sexual education, human sexuality issues, or information regarding sexual acts. UNLESS EACH CHILD’S PARENT OR GUARDIAN AGREES IN WRITING TO ALLOW THE CHILD TO ATTEND THE INSTRUCTION. PURSUANT TO 20-5-103, A CHILD IS EXCUSED FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE INSTRUCTION UNLESS THE CHILD FAILS TO ATTEND AFTER THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN HAS AGREED IN WRITING TO ALLOW THE CHILD’S ATTENDANCE.

Any information regarding sexual acts? Human sexuality issues?

I’m pretty sure those crazy kids in Romeo and Juliet engaged in sexual acts, and it’s pretty hard not to talk about it. Don’t get me started on Hamlet and Ophelia’s lap.

The Great Gatsby? Scratch.

The Grapes of Wrath? Scratch.

Isn’t there a discussion of rape in To Kill a Mockingbird? Better scratch that, too.

Basic discussion about laws regarding contraception, gay rights, abortion? Scratch.

Just because a handful of Republican legislators have chosen be woefully undereducated is no excuse for them to write legislation that takes away educational opportunities for students by making discussion of some topics entirely unworkable.

This is an entirely unnecessary and offensive law. The vast majority of teachers deal with issues related to sex in a responsible, educationally-appropriate manner now, and existing law and Board policy can control teachers who step outside those bounds.

Remember when Republicans were in favor of local control of education? Apparently they don’t.

Update: And passed, of course.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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