Last week in a late-night vote on September 30, 2015, the North Carolina Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 279 just hours after it passed the House. SB 279, sponsored by Senator Chad Barefoot (R-Wake) which originally was intended to create new standards for counselor licensing, loosens the standards for sexual and reproductive health education in North Carolina schools by allowing nearly any “expert” to approve or teach sex education. While the bill also includes new requirements for sex education curricula to include sex-trafficking awareness and prevention information, SB 279 ultimately dismantles standards established by the 2009 Health Youth Act.
Backers of the bill’s provision to so broadly extend the definition of experts were very explicit in their motivations. During the House Committee on Rules consideration of SB 279, for instance, Rep. Chris Whitmire (R-Rosman) shared his support for the bill because it would give local control to create sex education curricula that “better reflect the values of a community, stuff like Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.”
Republican Governor Pat McRory is expected to sign the bill. State education officials indicated that the changes have to first go to the state board of education, making implementation by next school year difficult.