This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Decisions on how Utah public schools should teach healthy human sexuality to teenagers should not be made by people who were never teenagers themselves.

That's the only explanation, implausible as it might seem, for those who continue to pepper the Legislature with arguments that real sex ed would amount to giving young people permission to engage in premature, unwise and potentially harmful sexual activity.

The evolutionary electro-chemical make-up of healthy young people isn't just telling them that sex is OK. It is telling them that it is mandatory. Luckily, there are enough counterweights offered by families, morals, shyness, fear, acne and good taste to reduce premature sexual behavior.

Real, comprehensive sex education, complete with factual information about contraception, would be another valuable tool in that kit. Sadly, Utah schools cannot offer that because state law insists on a thoroughly disproven (Bristol Palin) approach called abstinence-only.

The Legislature has before it a bill from Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, that would put real sex education — on an opt-in basis — in the public schools. It is needed, he said, because even though the state's abortion rate is low, the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing.

And even if it weren't, offering young people the real facts about such an important part of being human is the least we can do.

People who worry that society is over-sexualized — on TV, in movies, in the clothes and other things young people are encouraged to buy — are not wrong. But the way to deal with that is to level with the kids, correct any dangerous misinformation they may have picked up on the street or online and tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Abstinence-only is a fraction of the truth. One that works sometimes, but not often enough.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum and the go-to person for 18th century thinking, describes comprehensive sex ed as permission for teens to have sex. Which can only lead one to believe that she knows nothing about sex, sex ed or teenagers.

At least not enough that people in positions of real authority should pay any attention to her arguments.

King's bill should become law. All it is calling for is the truth. And how often does that come out of any state legislature?

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