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Assembly OKs School AIDS Bill; Veto Likely

August 28, 1987|RICHARD C. PADDOCK | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — School districts would be required to provide AIDS education to junior and senior high school students under a bill passed Thursday by the Assembly. But Gov. George Deukmejian appears likely to veto the measure.

By a vote of 42 to 27, the Assembly agreed to require schools to show students a film giving a frank explanation of the sexually transmitted disease. Under the measure by Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), any video shown to students also would stress abstinence as the primary means of preventing the disease.

"We're attempting to ensure that teen-agers in California, 50% of whom are sexually active, get this vital information about the hazards of indiscriminate sex," Hart said after the vote. "These films are a good way of demonstrating to people who are experimenting with sex or drugs that there is a real danger."

The measure was opposed by most Assembly Republicans, who contend that the bill does not give parents an adequate voice in whether their children see the films. Assembly GOP Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale has also charged that the films would give students a "how-to lesson in homosexual sex."

Shortly after the Assembly vote, Deukmejian's office indicated that the Republican governor might veto the bill because it does not give the state Board of Education--all Deukmejian appointees--the authority to decide what films would be selected.

"We do not support the bill in its present form," Deukmejian press secretary Kevin Brett said after the Assembly vote. "We continue to insist that the Board of Education be charged with reviewing the proposed AIDS education films."

Under the bill, state Schools Supt. Bill Honig, one of Deukmejian's chief political foes, and state Health Director Kenneth Kizer, an appointee of the governor, would select the films to be shown from among those commercially available.

Hart, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he opposes giving the power to select the films to the Board of Education. He said the panel is notoriously slow in making decisions, particularly on issues involving sex.

"They have grappled with the issue of sex education in the schools and have made very little progress," Hart said. "I could see us losing two or three years with the board making the decision."

Reviews Other Subjects

Brett argued that the board should have the responsibility because it already reviews "other forms of curriculum." However, Hart pointed out that the board's responsibility extends only to textbooks for kindergarten through eighth grade and does not include the review of such supplemental material as films.

Before Hart's AIDS education measure is sent to the governor, it must go back to the Senate for approval of amendments that were made by the Assembly. The bill earlier cleared the Senate on a bipartisan 32-4 vote.

Hart, who maintains that the AIDS prevention program is urgently needed, had initially proposed that schools begin showing the films this fall. But because of opposition from Republicans in the Assembly, Hart was unable to win the 54 votes needed for an urgency measure that would have taken effect before classes start in September. Now, if Deukmejian signs the measure it would be March before the videos could be selected and shown, an aide to Hart said.

Parents' Consent

Assemblyman Phillip D. Wyman (R-Tehachapi) urged his colleagues to vote against the bill because it would not require schools to obtain parents' written consent for their children to view an AIDS film.

"Why are we emasculating local control?" Wyman asked. "In the name of education on AIDS, which is a laudable goal, we are creating some very bad precedents in this bill."

Four Republicans voted for the measure, including Assemblyman Stan Statham of Oak Run, who pointed out that the bill would require school districts to notify all parents before showing the films. Parents would then be allowed to deny permission for their children to view the videos.

In a separate action on acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the Assembly unanimously approved and sent to Deukmejian a bill that would allow a physician to give the results of a positive AIDS test to a patient's spouse. The bill by Assemblywoman Teresa P. Hughes (D-Los Angeles), approved by a vote of 70 to 0, would create an exception to the state's strict AIDS confidentiality law.

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