When lawmakers meet Tuesday to begin the legislative session, they’ll have several pre-filed bills to consider, including one that would ultimately require school districts to develop plans for human sexuality education.
Under bill request 106, the Kentucky Board of Education would be required to “promulgate administrative regulations to establish a plan for school districts to provide human sexuality education to students in grades four through 12.
“This bill deals with age-appropriate education,” said Rep. Tom Burch, a Louisville Democrat.
The bill defines “human sexuality education” as age-appropriate instruction in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. Other defined areas include personal body safety, human growth and development, human sexuality and development, relationship violence and responsible sexual behavior, including abstinence.
The bill joins several other pre-filed bills that would usher in changes to K-12 education in Kentucky. They include bills that call for mandatory suicide prevention training for school staff, making financial literacy a high school graduation requirement, a statewide day of prayer and drug prevention education with an emphasis on opioids and the prescription drug crisis.
However, pension reform and crafting a two-year budget will likely be lawmakers’ top priorities.
Lawmakers need to find another $700 million for the next two years to finance the beleaguered state pension system, according to The Associated Press. The system is short at least $41 billion of the money it needs for pension payments over the next 30 years.
Given those issues, and rising Medicaid costs, Gov. Matt Bevin has said the budget “won’t be pretty.”
Despite the competing priorities, Burch said his bill touches on an important issue and that it has support.
“I’ve had several people call me and ask me to do it,” he said.
Burch described the bill as a revival of previous legislation that passed in the 1980s but was later rendered obsolete by the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, a sweeping education reform law.
The legislation requires all local school districts to prepare a plan for providing human sexuality education beginning in the 2019-20 school year.
The plan must be developed by an advisory committee appointed by the local school district superintendent. Participants shall include representatives for students, school staff, parents, religious and civic groups, health agencies or governmental agencies.
The district’s plan must also include increasing levels of education for students based on their age, and instruction must be provided by a certified teacher.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.