Virginia House Committee Rejects Bill to Require Sex Education in Schools

Pablo Moulden’s life turned around drastically when he was only in high school.

“In James Madison High School they showed us a video in which they compared people who have multiple partners to a piece of chewed gum,” said Moulden. “Two years later I was diagnosed with HIV at the age of seventeen.”

Moulden came out as gay during his sophomore year of high school, and with his first boyfriend had unprotected sex because he thought they were both virgins.

“I thought there was nothing wrong with two consenting virgins having unprotected sex,” said Moulden during a discussion at James Madison University in 2011. “Because there is no way we could have an STD.”  

He found out he was HIV-positive during an LGBTQ event in Northern Virginia, where they tested for HIV with cheek swabs. He was told the test could have been a false positive, but a month later he was officially diagnosed.

Moulden believes that sex education is not only about educating students about making safe choices, but making students comfortable discussing the subject. Talking about people like they are a piece of chewed gum only makes the topic taboo.

A report from the Virginia Department of Health from 2012, reported that the average age of first sexual intercourse is 15.6 years of age. Twenty-two percent of males and 16 percent of females were found to have had their first experience between ages 10 and 13 years.

The current law requires the State Board of Education to issue guidelines for family life curriculum but gives permission to local school boards to develop their own course if they wish to do so.

Moulden is now an HIV-positive public speaker. He said teachers and students in Northern Virginia, where he does most of his speaking, want a more comprehensive sexual education curriculum but laws are not in place to require it.  

Del. Sam Rasoul’s, D-Roanoke, House Bill 149 would have “required instruction that is medically accurate and appropriate for the age of the student.” The bill would have also removed portions of the Virginia Code that suggests teaching abstinence and the benefits of adoption.

According to the Virginia Department of Education guidelines, family life curriculum should be “age-appropriate instruction in family living and community relationships, abstinence education, the value of postponing sexual activity, the benefits of adoption as a positive choice in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, human sexuality and human reproduction.”

Opposition to the bill was not pleased with the proposed legislation removing language involving abstinence. But Rasoul said the bill never intended to take abstinence out of the curriculum.

“This bill will also strip out the only known way to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies – and that’s abstinence,” said a representative from The Family Foundation of Virginia.

After hearing the opposition, Rasoul offered to return the language concerning abstinence, but keep the language requiring medically accurate information. However, the proposed amendment was not voted on. The bill was defeated in the House Education Committee, 12-10.