SALT LAKE CITY, Thu Apr 14, 2011 ( – The draft version of a slideshow on contraception, developed by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) for use in state schools, has been withdrawn. A letter sent to all school district officials saying, “We ask that you inform your schools that this draft must not be used.”

Advocating the use of contraception in Utah schools is against the law. However, the USOE created the slide show, which, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, “explains different types of contraception, failure rates and side effects,” and also “describes abstinence as the only 100 percent effective method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,” as an aid to teachers worried they might be charged under the law.

“When we took a look at it we had complaints that some of it was too detailed. Other reviewers complained it was not detailed enough, so our leadership just made a decision the draft was not doing what we wanted it to do, and it was better left to [districts and charters] to make decisions on what they want to use,” Brenda Hales, state associate superintendent, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It wasn’t intended to be used in its current form.”

Two school districts, Granite and Salt Lake, had planned to use the presentation in its draft form, but were headed off by the USOE letter.

Granite District curriculum specialist Ron Burnside, who was part of the group that produced the slide show, said Granite now likely won’t use it, though he told the Tribune he thought it was a good presentation.

“In a touchy subject such as this, you have some teachers who aren’t sure what they should and shouldn’t say,” Burnside said. “With this, it goes through it, so they don’t feel uncomfortable in what they can and can’t present.”

However, opponents of the presentation said they were pleased by the USOE decision.

Gayle Ruzicka, head of the Utah Eagle Forum, said the presentation advocates and encourages the use of contraception. “It violates state law, and I think Salt Lake and Granite need to look at that very closely,” she said.

Concern over the sex-ed slideshow was also expressed by Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, who said, “If all the parents knew what was in there and had seen it, I don’t think they’d approve it.”

A press release from the Utah chapter of United Families International points out that Utah law requires sex education to be “abstinence based.”

“Utah sex-ed curriculum contains factual, scientific and appropriate information about human reproduction, relationships, contraception and strategies for STD prevention. The law requires abstinence before marriage to be taught as the standard to live by for unmarried students. The law states that teachers cannot encourage, promote or demonstrate use of contraception.”

United Families Utah also notes, “Planned Parenthood, in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health, has teamed up with Democratic State Representative Lynn Hemmingway (District 40) to liberalize the sex-ed laws.”

State Rep. Hemingway introduced House Bill 189 in 2010 “in part to increase the information about contraception included in public school curricula” due to “increasing infection rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among Utah adolescents.”

However, United Families Utah states that “Utah’s STD rates are still among the lowest in the nation,” and that “statistics actually show that the 3 school districts in Utah who have opted to be very conservative with sex-ed curriculum have the lowest STD rates in the state!”

Contact Information:

Utah State Office of Education
Dr. Larry Shumway
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
250 East 500 South
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114-4200
Phone: (801) 538-7510
Fax: (801) 538-7768
Email: [email protected]