Illinois Passes Bill for Comprehensive Sex-Ed in Public Schools

condoms, sex ed

Linda Holmes: “In fantasy land, we teach our kids abstinence—and they listen.”

On Wednesday, the Illinois state Senate passed HB 2675, a bill that requires state public schools offering sex education to include information on contraception and STDs. The bill passed by a vote of 37-21, and Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is expected to sign it.

According to Think Progress, abstinence-only education is not only ineffective but unrealistic since “even the Americans who grow up in socially conservative communities aren’t delaying sex until marriage—by some estimates, 80% of unmarried evangelical Christians have had sex at least once.” 60% of young adults not only underestimate birth control’s effectiveness but are less likely to use it because they do not believe it will work because abstinence-only education provides insufficient and often misleading information.

“In Fantasy Land, we teach our kids abstinence—and they listen,” said Illinois state Sen. Linda Holmes (D). “But we know they don’t necessarily follow that advice. They are going to be confronted with the issue of sex before they’re 21 years old, or 25, or whenever they decide to get married.”

Many Illinois schools have been teaching abstinence, but when the new bill is signed, they will be required to have comprehensive, “age-appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based” discussions about sex.

While the bill requires schools that teach sex-ed to teach about contraception and STDs, districts are still given the choice to teach sex-ed at all, and even in schools where it is taught, parents have the right to take their teenagers out of the classes.

Opponents to the bill have argued that instead of teaching more about sex with the assumption that kids will have sex, we should not give up on teaching our kids not to have sex.

“There are a lot of things that happen in America that we don’t agree with that used to not happen, but we sort of give up on it,” state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R) said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “And in the meantime our standards get lower and lower and our culture has more problems.”


Read more about Sex Ed on The Good Men Project:

Idaho Teacher Being Investigated for Using the Word “Vagina” in Biology Class

Teach Consent in Classrooms [OpEd]

How We Can Improve Sex Ed for Boys


Photo: victoriapeckham/Flickr

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About Abigail Ortlieb

Abigail is a graduate student at Emerson College in Boston. While she pursues her MA in electronic publishing and writing, she works as a freelance writer and editor and writes for the browser-based game, Alteil.


  1. The weird thing is that this is progress. I mean, where’s the requirement to teach different family structures, heathy sexuality, healthy body image, consent, and to have kids discuss abortion and homosexuality? “age-appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based” sex-ed is far from enough – if sex was all about medical facts, people wouldn’t be so up in arms about it, would they?

    As for teaching kids “not to have sex”, well, *headdesk*. Countries with comprehensive sex-ed programs have far lower teen pregnancy rates and teen abortion rates than the US.

    • Lars, where do you stand on parental involvement and teaching personal responsiblity at home? Parents have the largest influence on a kid’s sexual choices. The public at large and public schools do a very poor job of teaching about personal responsibility.

      It appears the parents only have a right to pull their kids out of the classroom. Why are public schools embarassing/shaming parents who don’t want to expose their kids to too much sexual information?

      If you step back from this, it sounds like one more anti-family law.

      • Of course parents have a huge responsibility when it comes to helping children developing a healthy sexuality and a healthy family. Nothing about sex-ed in school changes that. I don’t follow your point that “parents only have a right to pull their kids out of the classroom” – why do you think so? Comprehensive sex-ed in schools in no way prevent you as parent from being involved with you children and teaching then personal responsibility. Sex-ed in schools take nothing away from what you offer your children.

        And, no, I don’t see comprehensive sex-ed as anti-family. On the contrary, the more knowledge and the better basis young people have for making informed choices, the better they can form strong, healthy families. As such, sex-ed is definitely pro-family.

  2. Joan, I couldn’t agree with you more. When my kids were in HS, I opted them out of the sex ed program (which was not abstinence based). That’s mine and my wife’s job to educate OUR kids. Many of the parents we know didn’t even know they had that option and they too pulled their kids out.

    A lot is misunderstood about abstinence only programs. It’s far more then “don’t have sex.” Self image and healthy sexual relations is very much part of the educational process. I’m not gonna sit here and tell anyone which one is better … I’m here as a dad who believes that as a dad, I don’t want the public schools to interfere in the upbringing of my kids.

    My wife and I were virgins when we got married 39 years ago. My daughter, now 29, was a virgin when she got married as was her husband. To my knowledge, my son is still a virgin at age 27. He struggles because he “looks” like a guy who’s been around the block a few times. With dreads down to the middle of his back, very athletic etc., He’s admitted that a lot of young ladies he’s dated have “expected” him to jump into bed.

    Like their parents, my kids saw sex as something that was saved for the most special person in life, one who is committed to staying with them for life.

    In 1967, I was in 7th grade Catholic school and went through sex ed. I learned the basics between men and women, how the different body parts functioned. But back then, sex was not recreational. Things have really changed.

    • We were raised the same way and marriage, sex, and personal responsibility were taught at home. Isn’t a shame that abstinence is now shamed?

      In my opinion, if sex-ed goes beyond a basic reproductive biology lesson to teach kids ‘where do babies come from’ in an age-appropriate fashion, teachers are stepping over parent rights and into morality issues.

      Contraception, abortion, homosexuality, consent, marriage, alternative lifestyles, transgendering…those are moral issues. Teach kids algebra, science, history, but morality…let’s keep it simple.

      • “Contraception, abortion, homosexuality, consent, marriage, alternative lifestyles, transgendering” are not only about morality. You may have a moral viewpoint on homosexuality or abortion, and you nothing prevents you from teaching those moral values to your children. But homosexuality, abortion, etc are also facts of life the society where you children will be living. No matter your moral values, your children will one day have gay colleagues, lesbian neighbours, and a close friend who had an abortion.

        Schools should give children knowledge that help them navigate the world they live in. This is why we teach history, this is why they are hopefully taught about democracy, and this is why they should learn about statistics. And this is why they should learn about the many manifestations of family and sexuality. It all helps them arrive at informed opinions of their own, based on the core values they were brought up with.

        • Lars, couldn’t agree with you more “that nothing prevents you from teaching values to your children” However, when the public schools or society at large conflicts with our values, do we need to change our moral compass to meet society’s ever changing moral values?

          Like Tom said, he raised his kids on abstinence and wait until you’re married values, he is firmly rooted in that. But his son meets girls today that have different standards and want to leap into the sack.

          Should Tom change his standard and parenting style to meet the school or should the school respect his standard as a parent?

          Lars, personally, I’m not thrilled about our society at large. When we have 3 decades of family dysfunction, rape and sex crimes are household common terms, and girls can buy abortion pills at Walgreens…I’m not an anti-sex Puritan, but I’m with Tom.

          • Joan, no, why would you change your standards because they are at odd with what (some) other people believe? If Tom’s values include “wait until you’re married”, then by all means he should teach his children that.

            What I don’t understand is why you think sex-ed in public schools somehow prevent you from doing that? Taking your kids out of sex-ed classes will not make it easier to teach them your valies.

            I get that you’re unhappy with public moral and with many of the things that happen in society. However, trying to hide it from your children is not helping them – it’s just keeping them ignorant and less prepared to deal with the real world. Those things you do not like are not going to go away, no matter how many classes you take your kids out of.

            • Part of raising kids is keeping them “ignorant”, if you will, until they are ready to handle some life choices…kind of on a need-to-know-basis. They’re decision-making process isn’t fully developed until about age 18-25. It’s about the age-appropriateness, while respecting parent’s rights too.

              For example, should sex-ed teachers teach about anal sex between two men, when kids are at the age of 10, 12, or 18? Why and when is this appropriate in curriculum about reproduction? We as adults already know two men cannot reproduce.

              Or another example, should sex-ed teachers teach about oral sex, abortion, or consent when the Muslim religion strictly prohibits oral sex, birth control, and premarital sex?

              I know we are living in a global society now, so we need to respect other’s sexual morality and definitions of marriage and family.

            • Joan,you and I are in the same boat with the society at large. There is a lot of dysfunction. I’m a counselor for adolescent boys in a residential treatment center and I see it every day.

              @Lars. The assumption that so called conservative families who believe in abstinent only don’t educate beyond simple biology is incorrect. My kids, as well as many others that we know, were not sheltered from society. One of my daughters best friends AND godfather to one of my grandsons is gay. My kids are very worldly and are well educated on a multitude of societal issues.

              By my pulling our kids out of the program showed that we stand for what we believe. Taking them out of sex ed did make it much easier for them. They didn’t have to go through the process of learning how anal sex is done, types of positions people use. All that is very private to the individual and it’s something they weren’t interested in knowing. They didn’t have to go through the frustration while listening to a teacher educating them on what abortion is and why it’s used. In reality, we were able to spare them from that frustration.

    • Deanna Ogle says:

      Tom, I am all for parents being allowed to opt their kids out as long as they actually DO properly teach them sex-ed at home. Most parents I know that were religious opted their kids out, and like my parents, never said a word about sex. I have no issue with parents being the ones to pass down this information — I just hope other kids receive wisdom and information from their parent and are not left in the dark like I was.

  3. Deanna, I understand what you’re saying and I agree, parents should take a more proactive role in educating their kids. Like I said, in 7th grade Catholic school, I had sex ed and it was basic biology. Gee, guess what? I am pretty normal. When I got married, we managed to figure things out. We never needed birth control, never had to worry about STD’s … What’s to educate other then the basics?

  4. Tom, your life tells the story.

    This debate boils down to Family Responsiblity vs Public Schools Responsibilty. They framed this bill incorrectly and the media isn’t helping. Who is responsible for raising kids?

    All of these political arguments are framed incorrectly these days. They should be about who bears the burden of responsibilty, parents or schools (family vs govt). The govt should not dictate how much sexual information we expose kids to. I think parents gave up too much control to government a long time ago. Public schools are doing a poor job, parents are blamed, and kids are exposed to more sexual information. What’s next? Do we need to pull them out of school and home school all of them?

  5. Joan, thank you. It really does go back to the responsibility of the parents. As Deanna said, many parents aren’t stepping up to the plate and I have to wonder why. It appears to me that we’ve become very enabling and accommodating. I understand the motives of the so called “do gooders” but I feel they are causing more harm hen good now. It’s like many government programs like unemployment or public aid that start out to “help” people but it’s goes far beyond and government ends up enabling people to rely on government for just about everything that involves a family.

    I remember a couple of years ago, New York City piloted a program which financially rewarded families for their kids school attendance. Excuse me? The reward is that your child is being educated.

    Another accommodation that sticks with me is the push to have some schools teach in kids in Spanish. On the surface, yeah it looks good but how are these kids going to truly benefit? This means their future employer should be at the very least bi-lingual. The reason this sticks with me is that I am married to a women who is of Mexican heritage. Truth be told, she and her older brother didn’t learn English until 1st grade. Both raised my a single mom who worked in a factory and an elderly aunt that stayed home with them. My wife is fluent in both languages, verbal and written. My brother-in-law retired as a corporate executive of an international sporting goods company. (my wife one upped him … she married me). Their English is articulate and my wife’s verbal and written skills are amazing. No one gave them a free pass, no one accommodated their language barriers. But they had a mom that refused to allow either of them to slack off. School and school work came first. Both were double promoted in grade school. They both excelled.

    Government has to stop accommodating situations people get themselves into and/or misfortunes they may encounter. It’s one thing to “help” but it’s completely something else when that help turns into enabling. But as long as we allow government to accommodate, they will continue to get their fingers into our family lives. And here we have it. Government involvement …. No strike that, governments gradual “control” of the family.

    • Amen. Couldn’t agree with you more. This particular bill makes people choose what version of morality they would the government to deliver. Hard core or soft core? It’s none their business and it never has been. How did we get so brainwashed, that we even thought in was govt control in the first place?

      Let’s keep it a simple reproductive biology lesson: sperms and eggs, traits, and chromosomes, blah, keep it boring. Let’s not inspire kids with pretty-candy coated condom packages and KY gel.

      It’s all about these entitlements. ‘You owe it to me attitude.’ Excuse me? It enables people to lean on the government or the employer in perpituity, and make family obsolete!! Many of these entitlements and subsidies are anti-family and anti-men. Oh, boy do we have a lot of them!

      Proposed FMLA article is like that too, Women and Family Group want the employer to pay 12 weeks of baby-leave. It sounds nice on the surface, but it only enables women to stay single moms and lean on the employer, instead of welfare. Or shift onto welfare if she loses her job. It does nothing for men or marriage because men aren’t getting married or having babies NOW. More anti-male law on the books.

      Personal story. After the VN war we took in a Vietnamese family of 9 through the church. They had about $20USD when they landed and lived with us for about a year. I was little and taught them English with my kindergarten skills and chalkboard. They received 6 months of welfare, the father refused to take anymore than his share. The father had so much gratitude and personal responsibility engrained in him, that he paid back every dime to the govt. How many Americans do that?

    • Tom, also this over-extension of goverment involvement has become much like a socialized system, things like socialized healthcare are now a reality. To make it more interesting, if you’ve ever read a communist constitution, it’s much like ours. It has a bill of rights, separation of powers, etc, but it also has a separate section for the communist rules of authority. The Communist Party acts like policing agent that monitors and controls behaviors in society. One could make some loose comparisons to our PC police which has the strong feminist slant. Why are men feeling like they’ve been silenced and are under the microscope? Like our workplace, we hear men say Shh, we can’t say that, Shh we can’t do that. Shh we have to be sensitive to the females. SHHH…

    • Tom FYI, House Passed HR 45 to Repeal (Obamacare) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care Education and Reconciliation Act of 2010

      BUT it’s still on the table with the Senate. This call for repeal has been sent through Congress 36 times! Hopefully DEMs get the point and repeal it. Small business is caving because this.

      • Joan, thanks for the update.

        • Common Core, the nonsense school suspensions, and school bullying penalties are next to go. Silent majority is awake and moving in the right direction. It’ll be bumpy in the next couple years, economists are predicting temporary hyper-inflation on commodities, but it’s better than where we are now.

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