On Friday, August 13, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed into law HB 24. Effective immediately, the law amends Section 27-9.1 of the School Code regarding sex education. Specifically, the law now requires that all sex education courses taught in grades 6 through 12 include an age appropriate discussion on sexting (defined in the statute as the act of sending, sharing, receiving or forwarding a sexually explicit or sexually suggestive image, video, or text message by a digital or electronic device, including but not limited to a cellular or mobile phone or computer).
The statute prescribes that the course material and discussion as to sexting must include the following:
- The possible consequences of forwarding sexually explicit or sexually suggestive photographs, images, videos or text messages.
- Identifying situations in which bullying or harassment may result as a consequence of sexting.
- The possible long-term legal, social, academic and other consequences that may result from possessing sexual content.
- The importance of using the Internet safely and how sexting may impose a risk on the Internet.
- Identifying individuals in school, such as a principal, teacher, school social worker or counselor, OR a trusted community leader who may be contacted for assistance with issues, concerns, or problems.
- Developing strategies for resisting peer pressure and for communicating in a positive manner.
While the statute states a trusted community leader may be an identified potential contact, we suggest that special consideration and caution be given to naming such an individual in view of the nature of society today and the fact that sometimes, those one would tend to trust may surprise you (i.e. former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert). It should also be noted that though “police officer” was specifically identified as a potential contact in the original bill, that language was stricken by an amendment.
If you have any questions in regards to the new requirements contained in this bill, please feel free to contact us.