Governor Allows Dangerous Barriers on Sex Ed to Become Law in Alaska
JUNEAU – Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii released the following statement on HB 156 from Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager:
“Governor Walker failed to show leadership and failed Alaskan youth by choosing to support the dangerous restrictions on sexual health education that will now become law in Alaska. HB 156 is a crushing blow for comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education in Alaska and his lack of action today has put the education of thousands of teens in Alaska at risk, elevating sex ed to the most scrutinized subject in the state. Every single guest speaker, every curriculum, and even every piece of paper being used must be individually approved by each school board. This is designed to do one thing: block students from accessing the sex education they need on safe sex and healthy relationships. Our students, and everyone else in Alaska, deserves better from their leaders.”
Opposition to this bill is overwhelming and over the course of the 2015-2016 legislative session, 232 people testified in opposition, nearly 4,000 constituents contacted their elected officials, more than 2,400 calls were made to Governor Walker’s office and legislative offices, and opponents consistently outnumbered supporters at the 17 public hearings.
House Bill 156 was initially designed to improve student performance measures and increase local control of school districts, but in a turn of events over the course of 48 hours, the bill was hijacked to significantly restrict sex education. It took an unprecedented four votes in the House to accept these changes, eventually passing by just one vote. Now that the bill will become law, local school boards will be forced to regulate sexual health education more than any other subject – a clear effort to limit what is taught in the classroom.
Alaska is a nationwide leader in poor indicators of sexual and reproductive health, including:
- Leading the nation in chlamydia rates
- Unsurprisingly, Alaska is worse than 46 other states when it comes to educating our youth.
- Targeting sexual health education is a pet project of Senator Mike Dunleavy’s, and he continues to push it forward at every opportunity. Here is his astounding record:
- Last year he introduced SB 89, a clearly unconstitutional attempt to block Planned Parenthood’s sexual health programs. Even nonpartisan Legal Services outlined the legally questionable aspects of the legislation.
- When SB 89 stalled in 2015, Dunleavy infamously inserted the Planned Parenthood language into the Alaska Safe Children’s Act, also known as Erin’s Law, which would have increased sexual assault awareness education for Alaska students. This effort ultimately failed.
- This year, he not only revived SB 89 but also pulled out the Planned Parenthood language to create a new bill, SB 191, which somehow even more overtly targets Planned Parenthood. SB 191 dropped all pretense that this legislation is about anything else. If SB 89 was unconstitutional already, then SB 191 took it to a completely new level.
- SB 89 finally died in the House Health and Social Services committee, and SB 191 and its companion HB 352 did not move forward.
- Less than 24 hours after SB 89 died, Dunleavy inserted his agenda into the unrelated HB 156.