Herbert: Sex ed bill went too far

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Governor Gary Herbert spoke Thursday about his controversial veto of a bill that would have required abstinence-only sex education in Utah's public schools.

House Bill 363, sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, would have prohibited discussion of contraception, homosexuality and sex before marriage in Utah's public schools.

Supporters said the topic of sex is best left for the parents, while opponents say not discussing contraception would pose a health risk to many Utah teens. Amid controversy, Herbert vetoed the bill.

In the governor's monthly news conference on Thursday, Herbert talked about his veto, saying it was a solution in search of a problem.

"At the end of the day, I determined that this is an overreach," said Herbert. "It took away parental choice and, in the end, was not good policy going forward for the people of Utah."

The governor says lawmakers went too far. He says he likes the current sex education policy; parents can grant permission for their children to take sex education classes. Currently, abstinence is encouraged, but contraception is discussed in Utah's schools.

"95 percent of our parents are opting in to it. They have to proactively choose it. They have opportunities with their local school boards to modify curriculum as far what their child will have this," said Herbert. "I do believe we ought to focus on abstinence only and it ought to be a parental responsibility."

Herbert has faced criticism because he hadn't talked to Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, the bill's sponsor in the Senate prior to vetoing the bill. He says he did talk with the House speaker and Senate president, along with Wright.