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Montana Senate Bill 99 would change sexual education in schools into an opt-in system and would create barriers for students learning about reproductive health and safety.

I oppose this bill because YRBS survey data shows that nearly 40% of Montana high school sophomores self-report having had sex. Students may not feel safe talking to their parents about sex, but they’re still having it. Kids and teens may not feel safe getting an opt-in form signed, or their parents may not sign it, even though the young person may want them to. Students who would have attended the course will be left vulnerable, and at higher risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy if they don’t get the slips signed.

Even as a high school sophomore, I have friends who have experienced pregnancy scares. I have seen first-hand that students need sexual education so that they can make informed and safe decisions. An opt-in system would create numerous complications, and would leave many students uneducated on information that is vital to the health and safety of Montana’s youth.

Listen to the voices of the students this bill is affecting. I urge our representatives vote no.

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Eleanor Cornish