A bill to require sex education in public schools was debated, then delayed in the House Education Committee.

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said discussion on the measure would resume on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The proposal, House Bill 369, would apply to students in grades four through twelve.

Under current law, sex education in public schools is legal but not required.

The plan would require schools to offer “age appropriate” instruction on human sexuality, the health benefits, side effects and proper use of approved contraceptives and lessons to help students “make responsible decisions about sexuality and relationships.”

The proposal would also require that schools teach that abstinence is the most reliable way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Students could be excused from the classes on the written request of a parent or guardian.

“It is time, it is time folks that we begin to provide information for our kids,” said state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the legislation.

Smith said it is clear that some youngsters are engaging in sex.

“Therefore we need to provide them with medically accurate information, so they can at least make healthy choices in their lives,” she said.

Similar bills have died in the Legislature in the past.

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