SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a pair of bills Friday on improving sex education curriculum in K-12 schools.
The voluntary standards will emphasize health, safety, and inclusivity with resources based on student's ages. But, school districts aren't required to update its courses if there's no sex education program and parents can opt for their child to not take these courses.
"Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons like consent and internet safety are taught in classrooms," said Governor JB Pritzker. "By working together, we'll continue to strengthen our education system and deliver the bright future our kids deserve."
The first bill will update health and safety education standards for grades K-5 and have a more inclusive education in grades 6-12.
Course material and instruction will help students learn about concepts like consent and will develop the necessary skills to effectively communicate about health and relationships to individuals like parents and counselors.
The Illinois State Board of Education will create new standards and make any resources available to the public for free online no later than Aug. 1, 2022. This bill takes effect immediately.
The next bill, which also takes effect immediately, will require sex education classes to have curriculum on sexting, which will different for certain age groups. This includes information regarding the possible consequences of sharing or forwarding sexually explicit or suggestive content, identifying situations where sexting may result in sexual harassment or bullying, the consequences from possessing sexual content, internet safety, knowing who students can go to for help and ways to resist peer pressure.
"Technology has grown a lot in the last decade, and our education needs to adapt as well," said State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). "This new law requires those schools that teach sex education to include a lesson on sexting, so students can learn about the real-life consequences of the virtual act."
"With the evolution of technology and the increasing access for our children, it is vital that they understand the consequences of sexting. And now they will," said State Representative Maurice West (D-Rockford). "I want to thank Governor Pritzker and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their support in passing this important legislation."Copyright 2021 WIFR. All rights reserved.