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.