Texas Gov. Abbott signs SB 2039 allowing parents to opt out of child sexual abuse prevention training
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed HB 1342, requiring school districts to teach students to report sexual abuse, and signed the similiar SB 2039, which allows parents to opt out.
Problem is that parents are the primary abusers of children.
According to a news release from his office, he said he did so because the parental opt-out is consistent “with the longstanding rule in Texas schools that parents can remove their child from “any part of the district’s human sexuality instruction.”
“I have signed Senate Bill 2039, which directs the Texas Education Agency to develop an optional curriculum regarding sexual abuse prevention for use by school districts,” he said.
“While both Senate Bill 2039 and House Bill 1342 seek to achieve a good purpose, Senate Bill 2039 does so in a more suitable way,” the release read. “By recognizing both the importance of this topic and the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction, Senate Bill 2039 strikes the correct balance. House Bill 1342 was well-intentioned, but it lacked a provision for parental opt-out. This is inconsistent with the longstanding rule in Texas schools that parents can remove their child from “any part of the district’s human sexuality instruction.” Tex. Educ. Code § 28.004(i).’
Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation President J.J. Smith said the problem with the new law is that parents are the abusers in over 50 percent of child sexual abuse cases.
“This new law makes no sense because it allows abusive parents to prevent their children from learning how to report the abuse,” he said.
Founding CEO of TexProtects, Madeline McClure, expressed her disappointment in the decision, stating the governor and his office clearly misunderstood the intent of HB 1342.
“At the beginning of the 85th Legislative Session, Governor Abbott declared protecting Texas children from abuse among his top priorities. We are therefore perplexed and disappointed in his veto of HB 1342, the only bill requiring children to receive self-protection training against predators,” said McClure in a statement sent to news media.
“While we are glad sexual abuse prevention training may be taught to some public school children via passage of SB 2039, its parental ‘opt-out’ provision dramatically weakens its effectiveness.
“In his veto statement, the Governor defined this training as ‘human sexuality instruction,’ which is inaccurate. As I and others testified, it is the antithesis of sex ed, teaching children to say no, run away and tell a trusted adult.
“Opt-out creates a window for adults who are sexually abusing their children, preventing those children from understanding what is happening to them or how to stop it. Parental rights are paramount, but child sexual abuse is a unique circumstance that devastates these children for a lifetime. Ninety percent of child sexual abuse is committed by a family member or someone the child knows.
“The Governor and his office clearly misunderstood the intent of this bill. We cannot believe he would have wanted such a loophole to exist.”