CHICAGO — If Gov. Pat Quinn signs Senate Bill 2675, it would mandate public schools to teach information about sexually transmitted diseases, and some elementary school parents think it is a bad idea.
"I don't think it's appropriate for younger children but for high schools kids it would be fine," said Eboni Williams, 27, who has two sons, ages seven and nine. "If schools are going to be allowed to teach children about sexually transmitted diseases then they should not go 'all out' with it by showing them graphic photos."
David Blanchette, a spokesman for Quinn, said the governor would make a decision in the next week or so whether to sign the bill, but added that the governor had previously supported the legislation.
State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill, said she was confident Quinn would sign the bill, which the Senate recently passed by a vote of 37-21.
Jewel Eldridge, 34, is against the bill.
"It is not the school's place to teach my son or anyone's child about sex or STDs. That is a parent's job," Eldridge said. "Schools already have too much authority over our kids."
Currently, public schools that offer sex education, which is optional, only need to include information about abstinence, but not STDs. The proposed bill would mean sex education classes would also have to provide information on contraception and STDs, such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
Over the last two years the number of Chicago cases for children age 13 and under who were treated for Chlamydia increased, according to Brian Richardson, a spokesman for the Department of Health.
In 2011, there were 33 girls and eight boys treated for Chlamydia, but in 2012 it increased to 49 cases for girls and 16 for boys. For gonorrhea cases, though, the number of cases slightly dropped for girls 13 and under from 23 in 2011 to 15 in 2012. For boys, it bumped up from five in 2011 to seven in 2012.
Eldridge's son Jeremiah Smith, 11, attends Martha Ruggles Elementary School in Grand Crossing and said his school has not taught him about sex yet.
"Kids my age are too immature to have a discussion about sex. All they do is laugh and giggle, and when you're talking about a serious matter you should not be playing around," said the fifth grader. "I don't need to know about sex or diseases until I am a little older."
David Miranda, a spokesman for Chicago Public Schools, said sex education classes are available at all its elementary schools although each school has the option not to teach it.
"It's there to provide the information needed, but principals have the last say in whether it is taught or not," Miranda said. "All sex ed classes are age appropriate so parents do not have to worry about their child being exposed to too much to sensitive information at an early age."
Planned Parenthood of Illinois supports the bill.
“The goal of any top quality sexual health education program should be to help young people make responsible, healthy decisions. Studies show that sex education that covers contraception and disease prevention results in teens who more likely to delay sexual activity and use protection when sexual activity does occur,” Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a statement.
“More than 30,000 teens in Illinois become pregnant each year, and adolescents account for the majority of reported sexually transmitted infections in the state. This bill is a huge step forward in advancing the health and safety of young people in Illinois—while they are teenagers and throughout their adult lives,” added Brite.