A proposed sex ed law in North Carolina would expand the definition of a sex education teacher to be so broad that essentially anybody could be approved to teach it.
The bill — which passed in the state House by a near unanimous 108-2 vote — would allow for sex education curricula to be peer reviewed and accepted by any experts, regardless of their educational background, or, in North Carolina, where 40 percent of the state identified as Evangelical Christian in a 2004 survey, religious beliefs.
“It’s absolutely true that, as written right now, it [sex education curricula] could be determined by your auto mechanic, your hair dresser or your preacher,” Elizabeth Finley, communications director for SHIFT NC, a nonprofit focused on preventing teen pregnancy and curbing sexually transmitted diseases, told WRAL, a local news station in Raleigh.
Sex trafficking awareness and prevention would become mandatory parts of the class.
The bill would overturn much of the state’s 2009 Healthy Youth Act.
Religious groups like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, a favorite of former TLC reality stars the Duggar family, are set to act on the proposed changes. State Representative Chris Whitmire, a Republican, said that one reason he was backing the bill was to help schools using Dobson’s educational materials avoid court challenges.
That would put the state’s public sex ed in the hands of a group that has heavily invested in so-called ex-gay therapy programs, teaches abstinence-only, and has printed one booklet with a cover page asking “No means yes?”
A 17-year-old student subject to one of the group’s workshops posted some of its materials online, furious with what she called a promotion of rape culture, stereotypes, and an insistence that women were unreasonable and unable to control of their emotions.
The state’s Republican-majority Senate is expected to pass the legislation without issue.