SC lawmakers vote on revising decades-old sex ed bill

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A new bill that just passed the South Carolina House would mandate sexual education material taught in schools be "medically accurate."

It's a raised standard for a statewide system that Rep. Jenny Horne said was disparate and inept.

"You should've been at our subcommittee meeting. You could've heard a lot of silly stuff being said about things being taught," said Horne, who represents Charleston and Dorchester counties.

Her House subcommittee heard from speakers who talked about outdated curricula, especially in South Carolina's rural counties, she said. She said they even heard about one method of teaching students to drink Mountain Dew to prevent pregnancy.

"The goal is to create some kind of medical standard. This should be about how the body works, anatomy and physiology. It shouldn't be about silly stuff that doesn't give children the information they need to know on how to avoid getting pregnant," she said.

Horne is a co-sponsor on the bill that just passed the house. The bill would mandate all sex-ed material be "medically accurate." Horne hoped it would help with South Carolina's high teen pregnancy rates and standardize curricula across the state.

Charleston County Schools' Health Coordinator Dave Spurlock applauded the bill.

"Any new curriculum coming in would test on basis of it being medically accurate. Plus any existing curriculum we have would also have to be reviewed," Spurlock said.

The best place to teach children about sex is at home with parents, Spurlock said.

The bill in its original form also had a provision that would have required all sex-ed teachers to be certified in reproductive-health education. Currently, sex-ed teachers in Charleston County are made up of physical education, science and health teachers, depending on the grade, Spurlock said. Under the original bill, they would have been required to get special certification. Though, Spurlock said no new positions would have been created for a sex-ed teacher.

Nonetheless, Horne said that provision had to be removed in order to reach a compromise in getting the bill through the house.

"The state Department of Education didn't want to have to worry about certifying educators. There were people that weren't going to allow the bill to go forward if we didn't take it out," Horne said.

The omission disappointed Charleston County's Spurlock.

"I wish that had remained in there," he said. "I would like to see anyone who teaches any curriculum, especially comprehensive health, be certified."

The Senate still needs to pass the bill. Horne said it could take a vote by the end of session.