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State News

March 22, 2013

Ala. students challenge law on sex education

BIRMINGHAM, Ala — Two Alabama teenagers are using YouTube and an online petition in an attempt to change how sex education is taught in the state.

Sarah Noone, a 16-year-old junior at Indian Springs School, and her friend, Adam Pratt, a 17-year-old junior at Homewood High School, object to a portion of the state sex education law and curriculum that says homosexuality is unacceptable and unlawful in Alabama.

“It was shocking. I really didn’t think it would still be there,” Noone told WBRC-TV.

Alabama still has a sodomy law, but it was invalidated by a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said anti-sodomy laws were an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional.

But the state law on sexual education wasn’t changed.

The law, passed in 1992, requires “an emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of this state.”

The two students are using the video and online petition to rally support for a bill introduced by the Legislature’s only openly gay member, Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham, to remove the language. Todd’s bill has not been considered by a House committee.

Her bill addresses other portions of Alabama’s law, including deleting abstinence only education, but she said she plans to reintroduce a new version changing only the language on homosexuality. She told al.com that changing the abstinence language “was a non-starter for Republicans,” and a narrower bill should have a better chance of passing.

Noone’s and Pratt’s online petition on Change.org has received more than 80,000 signatures, and Noone is hopeful it will get the Legislature to act.

“It’s tough enough being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender student in Alabama, especially when our school curriculums provide students with a blueprint for bullying,” Pratt said.

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