OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma House Wednesday narrowly defeated legislation that would have required parents to provide written permission before their children could receive sex education instruction in public schools. Opponents said the "opt in" measure, which was voted down 51-50, would make it harder for children to receive sex education in Oklahoma, which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. A study released last year by the nonpartisan organization Child Trends revealed the state has the 12th-highest percentage in the United States for repeat births to teenage mothers. "This is a bad bill," said Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum, a former educator. "We're trying to micromanage an area that we have no business." The measure's author, Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, said he wanted the "opt in" provision so a parent would know in advance that his child would be enrolled in a sex education class and would not receive instruction the parent did not approve of. "They have the ultimate authority as to whether or not the child will attend that," Faught said. Faught, who said his teenage children are home-schooled, said parents should be the primary source of sex education for their children and schools should play a secondary role. Currently, Oklahoma school districts send "opt out" slips home with children who are enrolled in classes that provide sex education. Parents who do not approve can instruct school officials to take their child out of the class. But opponents, including some former public school teachers and administrators, said the primary purpose of sex education in Oklahoma is to teach abstinence and questioned why the bill was needed. "Do not try to fix that's not broken," said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. Cox, the Legislature's only physician, said 86 out of 1,000 Oklahoma births are to teenagers and that 49 percent of teens in Oklahoma have sex between the ninth and 12th grades. He also said teen pregnancy is the number one reason girls drop out of public schools in Oklahoma. Supporters, including Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, said children should not be exposed to instructional materials concerning sex that their parents do not know about. "It needs to be taught. Every child should be exposed to it — with their parents' permission," Wesselhoft said. Faught said sensitive sexual subject matter can affect the spiritual and emotional health of a child and that their parents should be responsible for its instruction. "Children are born to parents, not the state," Faught said. He blamed the state's high teenager pregnancy rate on the breakdown of the family. Faught held the measure for reconsideration after its defeat, a procedural move that allows him to ask the House to vote on it again. The measure is House Bill 2628.