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Illinois state Rep. Brad Halbrook, a Republican, voiced his opposition to Senate Bill 818, which drastically alters how sexual education is taught in the state.
"There is nothing wrong with schools teaching kids about biology with age-appropriate curriculum but what the state has done is give schools an either-or proposition," Halbrook said in an interview with the Chambana Sun. "Either they adopt these radical over-the-top sex ed standards or they don’t teach sex ed at all. This is a false choice, but this is what the state is doing. We don’t need to be sexualizing our kids."
"There is tremendous opposition to the National Sex Education standards in my district. The parents I talk to do not want their kids to be subjected to this material," he said.
SB 818 was signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on August 20, 2021, following Republican opposition. The bill requires sexual education classes in K-12 schools to align their curriculum with the National Sex Education Standards. "Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons like consent and internet safety are taught in classrooms," Pritzker said in an August 2021 press release.
According to Breakthrough Ideas, the new standards include teaching children in grades K-2 how to define gender, gender identity and gender-role stereotypes, as well as the medically accurate terms for body parts, including genitals. Students in grades 3-5 will learn about masturbation, hormonal development, hormone blockers, the differences in gender identities and how said identities differ from sexual orientation. Students in grades 6-8 will learn how to define, oral, anal and vaginal sex, and will be taught about methods of contraception that don't require a prescription, such as condoms and emergency contraception. High school students will learn about "reproductive justice," as well as about the differences between sex assigned at birth, gender identity and gender expression.
Those opposed to SB 818 feel that such an intense sexual education curriculum is inappropriate, especially when many Illinois students fail to achieve grades expected by basic educational standards. The Chicago Sun-Timesreports that less than 20% of Chicago third-graders can read or do math at grade-level proficiency. Furthermore, Wirepoints reports that 38% of Illinois students can read at grade level. Many parents also feel that the curriculum prevents them from having more control over their children's education.