Written by: Daniel L. Lautar, Esq.
The Ohio Department of Education (“ODE”) has begun auditing school districts for compliance with their legal obligation to notify parents and guardians about certain venereal disease and sex education curriculum. Ohio House Bill 110, which became law in 2021, requires that if a school district chooses to offer instruction in venereal disease or sexual education in addition to the minimum instruction required under law for those subjects, it must notify parents and guardians of such instruction. The notice must include the name of any instructor, vendor name, if applicable, and the name of the curriculum being used. R.C. 3313.6011(C). Crucially, the new law prohibits such instruction from being provided to a student unless his/her parent or guardian has submitted written permission to receive that instruction. Presently, course material on and instruction in venereal disease education must do all of the following:
(a) Stress that students should abstain from sexual activity until after marriage;
(b) Teach the potential physical, psychological, emotional, and social side effects of participating in sexual activity outside of marriage;
(c) Teach that conceiving children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;
(d) Stress that sexually transmitted diseases are serious possible hazards of sexual activity;
(e) Advise students of the laws pertaining to financial responsibility of parents to children born in and out of wedlock;
(f) Advise students of the circumstances under which it is criminal to have sexual contact with a person under the age of sixteen per R.C. 2907.04;
(g) Emphasize adoption as an option for unintended pregnancies.
The new law tasks the ODE with auditing school districts for compliance with these notice and permission requirements for additional instruction, as well as compliance with their obligation to permit parents and guardians to excuse their children from taking instruction in venereal disease education pursuant to R.C. 3313.60.
Pepple & Waggoner has prepared notices, permission forms, as well as opt-out forms, for a school district’s use in complying with its legal obligations with respect to venereal disease and sex education. Contact an attorney at Pepple & Waggoner today to learn more.