Wisconsin sex-ed law spurs local challenges

Wisconsin's recent sex-education law is spurring controversy in local school districts.

Stateline Midwest, Volume 19, No. 10 - November 2010

A new sexual-education law is sparking controversy in Wisconsin, where two school districts are challenging whether students should automatically be taught sensitive topics.

The Healthy Youth Act (AB 458), signed into law earlier this year, requires school districts that teach human growth and development to cover both abstinence and contraception.

But the Cedarburg School Board has adopted a new "opt-in”" policy that requires parents to specifically consent for their children to learn about those issues, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Board members say the district is in compliance with the state law — and is trying to involve parents. But supporters of this year’s state legislation say the board isn’t following the letter of the law.

In April, a local district attorney in Wisconsin warned school districts not to teach the new courses, citing concerns that teachers could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Three Midwestern states (Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota) mandate sexual education. Three others — Illinois, Indiana and Michigan— require schools that do teach it to stress abstinence, according to the Guttmacher Institute.