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Status on NC House Bill 88, "Healthy Youth Act"

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April 20, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your response, on short notice, to the Action Alert we sent on April 15 regarding HB88, the “Healthy Youth Act.” We would also like to make you aware of the present status of this bill.

The House debated the Healthy Youth Act on April 15 and 16. During the debate, 11 amendments were offered, five of which were accepted and favorable to us. The bill passed on a vote of 62 to 52. To view a list of how the representatives voted, click here. It will now proceed to the Senate for further review and, most likely, a vote.

While we are disappointed that the bill passed, several changes were made to the approved bill that we believe makes it more tolerable.

Here are some highlights of what passed:

1) The term "long-term committed relationships" was removed from the final text making marriage the only relationship that will be presented as part of the curriculum.

2) While comprehensive sex education looks more likely to become part of the state curriculum as a result of this vote, there would be three options for parents/guardians to choose from regarding which curriculum a child will be exposed to. The options are: a) an abstinence-until-marriage curriculum; b) an abstinence-based comprehensive sex education curriculum; or c) no sex education at all.

Parents/guardians would be required to sign a consent form indicating which curriculum their child will receive. In the event no form is returned, the child would receive no sex education.

Parents/guardians could at any time withdraw a child from participation in either program.

Parents/guardians would be given an opportunity to examine both curricula before selecting an option (or nothing).

3) Education on sex abuse and sexual assault would be included in the revised curriculum. We applaud this modification, which reflects the work of both of our dioceses over the past six years to train thousands of volunteers on this issue.

4) All materials would be available for a 60-day review period by parents/guardians before the curriculum is implemented.

While still opposing the bill because it endorses immoral behavior, we are pleased that parents/guardians may still choose the abstinence-until-marriage curriculum or nothing and that the House removed "long-term committed relationships" from a list of approved relationships that would be taught as part of sexual education.

We have been told that telephone calls and e-mails flooded the General Assembly on April 15 and 16 and we have no doubt that the input from Catholic Voice North Carolina registrants led to a more positive outcome for all of our state’s citizens.

Thank you again for taking the time to voice the Catholic viewpoint on this issue.

May God bless you.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Raleigh

The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis
Bishop of Charlotte