Efforts to promote sex education in Orleans Parish public middle and high schools cleared a major hurdle May 6 when the Louisiana Senate passed a bill by state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, allowing schools to administer anonymous student "risk" surveys.
Morrell's measure has the blessing of the New Orleans City Council. Its companion measures from state Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, aim to update sex ed practices in Orleans Parish schools.
"It's not an issue of misinformation," Morrell said on the Senate floor. "We're not teaching kids basic information."
The risk surveys allow schools to anonymously collect information to properly reflect the teaching materials. Morrell said the measure is not "intrusive government data mining," despite some protests from legislators.
"This data is solely included to improve the sexual education at [schools]," he said. "This is not an issue of introducing specific behavior to anything. It's not an endorsement of any particular topic. ... There's no 'nefarious intent.'"
State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, proposed an amendment to allow parents to opt out of having their children participate. The amendment passed by a 27-10 vote. Morrell's and Bishop's measures await action in the House this month.