A bid to require that sex education be taught to public school students in grades seven to 12 in New Orleans was crushed Tuesday in the Louisiana House.
The vote was 33-59, which is 20 votes short of the minimum needed for final approval.
The lopsided defeat means the legislation is likely dead for the session.
State Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, the sponsor of the measure, repeatedly reminded lawmakers that it would apply only to New Orleans.
“I am not asking anybody to have to bring this particular bill to one of your 63 parishes where you come from,” Bishop told the House.
“What I am asking for you to do is let New Orleans do what it thinks is in its best interests,” he said.
Current law allows public schools statewide to teach sex education in grades seven and above but does not require it.
Bishop’s bill would require it in New Orleans starting at grade seven for the 2017-18 school year.
Topics covered would include pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and the responsibilities of parenthood.
He said parents would have the option of keeping their children out of the classes.
The legislation, House Bill 359, said abstinence would be part of any instruction as the only 100 percent effective method for preventing unintended pregnancies.
Sex education for students in grades three to six would be optional in New Orleans.
The proposal sparked little debate.
However, opponents during committee debate included the influential Louisiana Family Forum and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, questioned whether it would make sense for children to seek adults other than their parents for sex education.
“Most parents in this room don’t want to have a conversation with their young people about sex education,” he said. “It is a difficult conversation to have.”
He added, “Your kid is going to learn it whether you like it or not.”
HB359 had won narrow approval in the House Education Committee.
Similar bills that applied to public schools statewide have failed in previous years, often amid heated controversy.
Bishop’s proposal calls for “comprehensive, age- and developmentally appropriate, medically accurate and evidence-based instruction.”
Johnson asked if students would be taught how to use a condom.
No, Bishop replied.
The vote on the bill had to be done by roll call after the House voting machine malfunctioned.