For the second time in two weeks a bill that would require the teaching of sex education in public schools failed Tuesday afternoon in a Louisiana House committee.
The tally was nine “yes” votes and nine “no” votes in the House Education Committee.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the bill, criticized House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, who backed her bill on April 25, when the measure failed on an 8-8 vote but who voted “no” on Tuesday.
“I changed my mind,” Carter said moments after the vote.
A bid to shelve the bill for the session failed 7-11, which leaves open the possibility of more debate.
However, Smith was noncommittal on whether she would try to resurrect her bill for the third time.
The session ends on June 4.
The proposal, House Bill 820, would require “age appropriate” instruction on human sexuality.
Topics at various grades would include the teaching of abstinence as the most reliable way to prevent pregnancy and about sexually transmitted diseases and the proper use, benefits and side effects of approved contraceptives.
Parents could, through a written request, have their children removed from the class.
Smith earlier distributed figures that show East Baton Rouge Parish ranked first in the state in 2009 in the number of births to mothers under the age of 20.
The parish also ranked third in 2009 in the number of two sexually transmitted diseases — chlamaydia and gonorrhea — among females ages 15-19.
Opponents said it makes no sense for children as young as kindergarten students to have instruction in sex education and that the issue belongs mostly in the home.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Family Forum opposed Smith’s bill.