A bill that critics said would permit intrusive sex surveys of public high school students was rejected late Tuesday night in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee.
A move to shelve the measure was approved 4-1 after more than an hour of discussion.
The plan, Senate Bill 218, would allow the state Department of Education and the state Department of Health and Hospitals to do student surveys on their “risk behavior” linked to health problems, including sexual health.
Sen. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the bill, said Louisiana is one of two states that prohibit surveys like they ones he wants.
“I understand this isn’t the easiest bill to bring forward,” he said.
Backers said students would only participate if their families “opt in” to do so and would do so anonymously.
They also said the information would help the state combat its high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and other problems.
“We all know the need is very great,” said Marsha Broussard, an official of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and backer of the bill.
But state Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, a member of the committee, criticized Bishop’s proposal.
“I have a real hard time with this,” Mizell said. “I don’t know what purpose it serves.”
She called the bill “very intrusive” and embarrassing for teenagers.
The Louisiana Family Forum issued an email alert Monday to its “60-Second Brigade” urging followers to oppose the bill.
The email said the legislation “will expose students to intrusive, innocence-destroying questions with no guarantee that this private information would be held secure.”
Gene Mills, president of the LFF, said before the hearing the proposal “is just an overkill. It is too much.”
At the end of the debate, Bishop said it was clear he did not have the votes.
“I know how to count,” he said.
He added, “We are going to keep bringing this kind of legislation. It is important to have this kind of legislation.
“Whatever we are doing is not working,” Bishop added. “Stevie Wonder could see it is not working.”
Another measure Bishop is sponsoring — Senate Bill 353 — would spell out public school protections for students who are expectant mothers or students who also are parents.
The proposal won committee approval.
The legislation would also require the state Department of Education to inform lawmakers how many expectant mothers or students with their own children graduated from high school.
In another area, the committee rejected a bill that would repeal a creationism law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.
It is Senate Bill 156 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.
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