UPDATE: Pritzker Signs Two Bills Updating Sex Education Standards in K-12 Schools, Local Lawmakers React


Published on August 21 2021 10:00 am

Gov Pritzker Signing

Governor JB Pritzker signed two bills into law Friday that make changes to the state’s sex education standards in K-12 schools.

The standards are focused on health, safety, and inclusivity with age-appropriate resources. The standards are voluntary and do not need to be adopted in school districts that don't provide comprehensive sexual health education. Parents may also choose to opt their children out of the teaching.

“Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons like consent and internet safety are taught in classrooms,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “By working together, we’ll continue to strengthen our education system and deliver the bright future our kids deserve.”

Course material and instruction will help students learn about concepts like consent and will develop self-advocacy skills for effective communication with parents or guardians, health and social service professionals, other trusted adults, and peers about health and relationships.

The Illinois State Board of Education will develop and adopt these new voluntary learning standards in consultation with stakeholders, including parents, sexual health and violence prevention experts, health care providers, and education advocates. They will make these free resources available online no later than August 1, 2022.

SB 818 takes effect immediately.

“As a legislator, assuring that young people have all the tools to make healthy decisions has been a priority for me,” said State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago). “Seven years ago when we fought to move sexual health education in Illinois beyond abstinence-only education, we knew there was more work to be done. Today marks another step in our efforts to ensure that young people receive a full toolbox of knowledge and skills to reduce harm and support overall health for their entire lives. I thank all those who have worked on the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act as well as all those who voted to pass it.  We know that the need of young people evolves, we must keep pace.”

House Bill 24 requires classes that teach sex education to include an age-appropriate discussion regarding sexting. The discussion will include:

•&nbspinformation regarding the possible consequences of sharing or forwarding sexually explicit or suggestive content
• the identification of situations in which bullying or harassment may result as a consequence of sexting
• the potential for long-term legal, social, academic, and other consequences from possessing sexual content,
• the importance of internet safety,
• the identification of people who could be of assistance on this issue to students
• and the development of strategies to resist peer pressure.

HB 24 takes effect immediately.

Local State Representative Adam Niemerg of Dieterich voiced his displeasure with the bills, urging parents and school districts to opt their children out of the material.

State Senator Darren Bailey of Xenia says if he's elected Governor, he would undo the legislation.