INTERVIEW: Represenative Julie Van Orden discusses re-election campaign, sex education bill

Representative Julie Van Orden talks with Neal Larson and Julie Mason about her re-election campaign and criticism she’s received about an effort to update Idaho’s sex education laws | Photo: Sydney Jensen, KID Newsradio

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The race for Idaho Legislative District 31B is heating up as Representative Julie Van Orden works to secure the votes needed for her re-election.

Julianne Young, a Blackfoot local, is challenging Representative Van Orden largely on an issue the legislator took up during the 2018 legislative session: updating the sex education laws in Idaho.

While the bill failed to pass, Young has made the effort a focal point of her campaign against Representative Van Orden.

It’s been interesting that this issue has [come] up so much during the race because I feel like there’s other issues that I focus on, not just one issue,” Representative Julie Van Orden, who serves Idaho Legislative District 31B, told KID Newsradio.

Representative Van Orden said she decided to pull the bill because of the concerns surrounding and the need for further adjustments to the proposed legislation.

I knew that it was not a finished product and there was a lot more that I needed to add into it and get some more input,” Representative Van Orden said. “I’ve since come in contact with a group called Ascend and they are a nonprofit and they promote sexual risk avoidance sex education and their platform is very, I like it. I think that’s we want to go with sex education in Idaho.”

The intention of the bill, contrary to some of the criticism Representative Van Orden said, was to allow members of all families participate in the sex education process and not just parents.

“The young lady that I worked with has two siblings that are in junior high and high school in the Boise School District and she has this concern and she’s concerned for her siblings, but as she’s not a parent of anybody in the Boise School District,” Representative Van Orden said. “So, she would not have been able to, if [she] wanted to, serve on any committee to help with this if it just said ‘parents.'”

Rather than push parents out of the sex education process in school districts, Representative Van Orden said she hoped to create a more inclusive environment for other concerned people to participate.

“The intention was not to drive parents away from their children and it was not to let anything liberal come in,” Representative Van Orden said. “It was to give siblings or aunts or uncles or anybody else, the opportunity to be able to help on those committees at a school district level.”

If re-elected, Representative Van Orden said, she plans to move forward with the bill in the 2019 Legislative Session aided by organizations dedicated to creating solid, conservative policy dealing with sex education.

“I’ve already been in touch with a number of organizations and have received model policies from those organizations,” Representative Van Orden said. “I’m concerned about that comprehensive sexual education and I want to know how we can keep it out of going into our schools and so that’s the level which I’m committed to go to to be able to do that.”


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