Proposed Health Bill Merits Concern

Proposed Health Bill Merits Concern

It’s natural for local governments to frown on state policy mandates especially when it comes to requiring funding commitments. Though the money obligation is unknown, it’s clear Worcester County government officials – and maybe school leaders as well – are offended by proposed legislation to establish a comprehensive health education framework in primary and secondary schools.

On the surface, the legislation seems innocuous. House Bill 119, which had its first reading in the House Ways and Means Committee last month with a hearing held last week, requires the State Department of Education to create “an age-appropriate curriculum that is consistent with the comprehensive health education framework” with each county responsible for reporting annually on the curriculum’s development.

The beef is in the details of the legislation that tells school systems what needs to be included in a health education curriculum. Mandating what should be taught in the classrooms is not the role of the Maryland General Assembly. Education should be left to those who know it the best – the professionals who study and understand the intricacies.

Furthermore, while it outlines the ability for parents to opt out of certain elements involving sexual preferences and gender identity the reality is most parents will be unaware of the content of the curriculum until well after the fact. Even the most ardent and involved parents have no idea today what their children are learning in health classes unless a conversation is broached about it. This is just too much and epitomizes government overreach.

The proposed legislation reads, “Each county board shall establish policies, guidelines, and procedures for a parent or guardian to opt out of the family life and human sexuality or the gender identity and sexual orientation topics for the parent or guardian’s student in each grade in which those topics are taught.”

The bill is officially being opposed by the Worcester County Commissioners with some officials specifically expressing disgust with certain elements of the health education framework, such as gender identification being discussed in pre-kindergarten and seventh graders being asked to identify the differences between certain types of sex.

“Education should not be involved in this type of smut,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said. “I just think this is wrong.  If I was a young person and I had children that were pre-k through seven eighth grade I would work three jobs just to pull them out of the county school system if this becomes a mandate for county schools.”

The letter of opposition is certainly warranted, and the hope here is the bill never makes it out of committee.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.