Controversial sex education curriculum passes the Senate

On May 20, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 818, a controversial education bill that would rewrite existing state standards for sex education in grades K-12.

Senator Syverson says he strongly opposed the legislation and voted against it.

The legislation would significantly limit local control over sexual education by requiring school districts to either teach the new standards as written or nothing at all.

These standards were formulated by advocacy groups from outside of the state, many of which are considered divisive.

Some of the contentious provisions that can be found in Senate Bill 818 include:

  • Requiring kindergarten students to be taught about consent;
  • Requiring second-grade students to define consent, reproduction, and gender identity, as well as identify different types of families, including cohabitating and same-gender;
  • By fifth grade, students would be required to describe the role of hormone blockers, to distinguish between the sex assigned at birth and gender identity, define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender expansive, and gender identity, and to be able to articulate that gender expression and identity exist along a spectrum;
  • Language that deemphasizes that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent STIs and pregnancy; and
  • Requiring course materials to include local resources for reproductive health (including abortion providers), and prohibiting any instruction or materials in the classroom, including guest lectures, which might conflict with the provisions of the bill.

The legislation now heads to the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.