To the editor:

I have become intrigued by an unusual bill making its way through this legislative session, SB 89. In part, this bill requires written permission from a child’s parent before that child may participate in any school activity involving “sexual matters.” So, does this mean that if your child wants to go the school dance, where girls may be dancing with boys, you, as a parent then need to provide the school with written permission for your child to attend?

As most of the verbiage has to do with educational materials from Planned Parenthood, one immediately suspects an orchestrated, religion-based motivation in this proposed legislation. And although not conclusive, sure enough, the bill’s author attended an East Coast private religious college, which religion has an active, ongoing anti-Planned Parenthood program. In this country, however, we believe in disestablishmentarianism, the separation of church and state. And this legislation is antithetic to this principle.

A third objection of mine to this legislation is its general goofus character. Good grief. Even Mississippi, often ranked last in education, has declined to pass legislation such as this. Consider the following. Here in Alaska, the age of consent is 16 years old, meaning that so long as John and Mary are at least 16 (typically sophomore in high school), they can drive down to River Road and make out as they are so inclined. That’s reality. And considering the myriad of confusing issues in boy-girl relationships, especially in that age group, I would argue that having a strong, elective program of classes addressing interpersonal issues would be obligatory for any quality school system. Never mind that Alaska has the highest rate in this country of chlamydia infections, the fifth-highest rate of gonorrhea, an above-average teenage pregnancy rate, and a child sexual-assault rate six times the national average.

Our local schoolboard should be able to provide a health studies program as they see fit, including any offerings from the Planned Parenthood organization that the board views as relevant. I just wonder how our local state legislators will be voting on this bill?

Jeff Stewart

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