A debate at the Capitol over how schools should teach sex education turned into conflicting claims of exactly how much protection condoms provide against disease.
The Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 Monday to spell out that if schools opt to offer sex education they must provide "medically accurate" information.
That is defined in SB1096 as being supported by scientific research and recognized as accurate and objective "by leading professional organizations and agencies with relevant expertise in the field."
Rachael Chanes, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona, told members of the Senate Education Committee the measure is necessary because some of what passes for sex education in public schools may be doing more harm than good.
For example, she said, the "Choosing Best" curriculum used in some schools claims some rare complications of sexually transmitted diseases are common.
In one instance, Chanes said, students are told that infection from such diseases could lead to removal of genitals and death.
"This type of instruction serves only to scare students such that they are less likely to seek treatment if needed," she said. And the "Sex Respect" curriculum teaches that contraceptives are ineffective "by distorting the failure rate of condoms."
But Jane Jimenez, a retired educator, said those pushing these sex-ed programs are the ones not being honest with students.
" ‘Medically accurate’ is a term easily manipulated to mean what one wants it to mean," she said.
Jimenez said it is accurate to say that condoms reduce the risk of HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. But other studies show "no demonstrable evidence" that condoms prevent other serious and incurable diseases.