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Planned Parenthood's "health" bill - H597 (also S288)

Mandates extremely offensive and controversial topics as requirements for graduation (and passing certain grade levels) in public schools.

This bill (listed below) is part of Planned Parenthood's 5-year plan to extend sex ed, abortion counseling, and normalization of homosexuality (and even transexuality)  in the public schools. We stopped their similar bill last session, and this time they're back with less offensive sounding version, but it's still very dangerous. Planned Parenthood has worked hard for this, getting dozens of co-sponsors!

The bill does the following:

  1. It adds "health education" to those topics which are a legal requirement for graduation from Massachusetts public schools, even passing from grade levels within the schools.
  2. It defines "health education as including "reproduction and sexuality, mental health, family life, and interpersonal relations" as required topics.
  3. It states that the infamous "Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework" shall be used as a legally mandated guide for what will be taught to children for the health education topics. The Health Curriculum framework includes extremely offensive and controversial mandates on homosexuality, abortion, intrusive psychological issues, sex education, and other topics.

Read our analysis of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework.

This is every parent's nightmare. And having this written into state law, rather than left to individual school districts to decide, is exactly what Planned Parenthood wants. This is their springboard to push much deeper into the public schools.

But it's also an intentionally confusing approach: The Health Curriculum Framework includes some very legitimate health topics, cleverly mixed in with the extremely objectionable topics. This way, Planned Parenthood can (1) get groups like the Heart Association to lobby for the bill as a necessary law, and (2) they can demonize critics of the bill as "enemies" of healthy eating, exercise, etc.

Last session we repeatedly asked the sponsors (and the Education Committee) to split off the objectionable topics from the rest of the bill, and thus avoid needless conflict. But they refused to do it then, and they still refuse to to it.

Here is the text of the bill, with our analysis:

HOUSE BILL H597  (Also Senate bill S288)
(Link on State House website)

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 1D of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “languages”, in line 6, the words:—, health education.   

[Makes "health education" a legal requirement for graduation, and also for passing certain grade levels within school.]

SECTION 2. Paragraph 3 of said Section 1D of said Chapter 69, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the fourth sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:— The standards for health education shall be age-appropriate, medically accurate and shall, at minimum, provide for instruction in the following areas:— growth and physical development, physical activity and fitness, nutrition, reproduction and sexuality, mental health, family life, interpersonal relationships, disease prevention and control, safety and injury prevention, tobacco, alcohol, and other substance use and abuse prevention, consumer health and resource management, ecological health, and community and public health.

[This makes these standards mandatory, not suggestive as is currently, by changing the word "may" to "shall". New law also changes the list of topic areas covered from current law. Adds phrase "age-appropriate", tho it's not defined and can thus be defined by school system.]

SECTION 3. Paragraph 14 of said Section 1I of said Chapter 69, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following clause:— (l) health education.

[Adds "health education" to the list of topics that districts must report to the DOE on their procedures and programs - to make sure they're complying!]

SECTION 4. The commissioner of education shall submit a report on the provision of health education by school districts to the joint committee on education, the clerk of the house and the clerk of the senate no later than July 1, 2009. The report shall include the following data for each public school in the Commonwealth: health education requirements by grade level; health education curriculum offered by grade level; the number of students who opt-out of any portion of the health education curriculum involving human sexual education or human sexuality issues; and approximate number of hours spent on each of the 14 subject areas listed in Section 2 of this bill by grade level.

[Requires DOE to submit baseline reports of each school district -- to make sure that the schools have begun enforcing the health curriculum.]

SECTION 5. Consistent with the provisions of said Section 1E of said Chapter 69, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework shall be construed as a guide for local school districts in the development and selection of curriculum, textbooks and instructional materials.

[Specifically inserts the Mass. Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework document in state law as required guide! Currently, use of Framework is not required.] (see our report here)

SECTION 6. Consistent with the provisions of Section 32A of Chapter 71, every city, town, regional school district or vocational school district implementing or maintaining curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues shall adopt a policy ensuring parental/guardian notification. Such policy shall afford parents or guardians the flexibility to exempt their children from any portion of said curriculum through written notification to the school principal. No child so exempted shall be penalized by reason of such exemption.

[Very devious. Re-states language in notification law that is weak and easily ignored by schools. If actual notification law is changed, though, this language still stands here!]

SECTION 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to require an MCAS exam on health education.

[For benefit of teachers union, which wants to get of MCAS entirely.]

SECTION 8. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.



House sponsors:

Alice K. Wolf
Edward M. Augustus, Jr.
Patricia A. Haddad
Peter J. Koutoujian
Byron Rushing
Lida E. Harkins
Ruth B. Balser
Rachel Kaprielian
Jay R. Kaufman
Ronald Mariano
Frank I. Smizik
David M. Torrisi
Martin J. Walsh
Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.
Cory Atkins
Cleon H. Turner
Louis L. Kafka
J. James Marzilli, Jr.
Kay Khan

David Paul Linsky
Jennifer L. Flanagan
Matthew C. Patrick
Willie Mae Allen
Martha M. Walz
Christine E. Canavan
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.
Ellen Story
Pam Richardson
John D. Keenan
Mark V. Falzone
Stephen Kulik
Denise Provost
William N. Brownsberger
Steven J. D'Amico
Douglas W. Petersen
John W. Scibak
Sarah K. Peake
Alice Hanlon Peisch

Mary E. Grant
Barbara A. L'Italien
James B. Eldridge
Denis E. Guyer
Gloria L. Fox
Anne M. Gobi
Michael J. Moran
Rosemary Sandlin
Michael A. Costello
Elizabeth A. Malia
Allen J. McCarthy
Barry R. Finegold
Tom Sannicandro
Michael E. Festa
Kevin G. Honan
Peter V. Kocot
William Smitty Pignatelli
Thomas M. Stanley