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Sarasota Thursday, May. 13, 2010 7 years ago

GOP to oppose sex education

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Saying it’s a subject that should be taught at home and not at school, the Republican Party of Sarasota County is expected to pass a resolution this week opposing the teaching of sex education in schools.

Specifically, the RPSC resolution addresses a bill that had been going through the Legislature that would require any state-funded school that already offers sex education to adhere to a standard curriculum.

Currently, each Florida school district decides its own curriculum, if it offers sex education.

The bill died in committee last month, but Walt Augustinowicz, a Republican Party member who is in charge of the resolution, said he believes the bill could be filed again next legislative session.

“We feel this is something that should be taught at home,” he said. “A lot of parents would like to teach it their own way.”

But Wendy Grassi, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said she agrees that, ideally, parents should teach their kids about sex, but the reality is that many are not.

Planned Parenthood helped District 69 Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, write his bill. Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment.

“Sex education is terribly important,” Grassi said. “Florida has the 12th-highest, teen-pregnancy rate in the country.”

Joe Gruters, RPSC chairman, said he would like Fitzgerald and the Legislature as a whole to concentrate on more important matters.

“They should be focusing on creating jobs,” he said. “We’re not saying (sex education) should never be brought up again. We’re saying, in these challenging times we’re facing, we should be focusing on jobs.”

Gruters said the Legislature can only file a certain number of bills each session, and because he believes the sex-education bill will never get passed, it’s a waste of a bill.

Augustinowicz also objected to the bill’s language that calls for sex education to be taught as early as sixth grade.

Grassi pointed out that the bill called for age-appropriate classes, so what sixth-grade students would learn would not be the same as what high-school seniors would learn.

“Why would you withhold information from teens that could save their lives?” Grassi asked. “A lot of teens are having sex. We may not like it, but we can’t ignore reality.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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