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Opt-In for Massachusetts?

Opt-in for Massachusetts?

By Shannon Ingram, SIECUS Program Research Intern
Two Republican state legislators are leading a drive to change Massachusetts school policy on sexuality education. Representatives Betty Poirier (R- N. Attleboro) and Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield) seek to end longstanding state policy requiring local school districts to offer an ‘opt-out’ provision for such instruction. Worried that the state may soon enact new health and sexuality education standards, and claiming to represent the interests of parents, the legislators seek to change the mandate so that parents must sign permission slips before their children can attend lessons addressing sexual health and related sexual topics.
Democrat Alice Wolf, a state representative from Cambridge who authored the bill to update statewide standards, criticized the opt-in proposal as “a terrible idea…Betty Poirier and I are good pals, but I don’t agree with her.”1
Support for the opt-in measure appears to be strongest among anti-abortion advocates. Marie Sturgis, executive director and legislative director of Mass Citizens for Life, endorsed the bill while testifying before the Massachusetts state legislature’s Joint Committee on Education. "One of the problems with current sex education is they are explaining the law to students instead of the parents, and they’re teaching students how to get abortions under the parents’ radar, and this is totally wrong," she said.”2
1  Adam Tamburin, “‘Opting in’ to Sex Ed Schools,” The Sun Chronicle, 3 October 2011, accessed 14 October 2011, <>.
2  Brittany Abery and Justin Meisinger, “Poirier Wants Parent OK for Sex Ed,” The Sun Chronicle, 20 October 2011, accessed 31 October 2011, <>.