The questionnaire of candidates running for elective office presented in this edition is one tool by which voters can assess the candidates and the stands they take, or refuse to take, on a wide range of issues. The importance of casting your votes in the primary election Tuesday, May 18, and/or the general election in November becomes clear with the news of almost every day. The bills lawmakers pass have an impact on families, for good or bad.

One such bill currently in the state House of Representatives, HB 1163, seeks to provide what it calls “comprehensive sex education” in Pennsylvania’s public schools. A few aspects of the bill stated desire is to help young people make “responsible and healthy life decisions,” would make most parents cringe.

Comprehensive information about contraceptives includes that for Plan B, an oral contraceptive featuring a powerful cocktail of hormones that, when taken under certain conditions, helps induce an abortion. Homosexuality is placed on a par with heterosexual relations.

All of this addresses sex outside of marriage and is directed toward “sexually active pupils” beginning in fifth grade (11 year olds) through 12th grade.

On the plus side, the sex ed curriculum includes the benefit of abstaining from sexual relations as the only way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Parents can also direct that their children sit out of sex ed classes. But doing so marginalizes the children among their peers. The children who sit out of class become the exception to the mentality that assumes heterosexual and homosexual activity among young people is not only inevitable, but acceptable.

HB 1163 is opposed by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the advocacy arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. The bill presumes that the state will judge what children need to know about sex, not parents. Catholic teaching holds that parents are the first and best teachers of their children.

By what they say and do, parents teach in the most effective way the truth that is missing in the sex ed curriculum: A man and a woman join with one another in marriage, which is a permanent union of love and openness to life marked by lifelong commitment. Parents show that sexual activity only within marriage gives love and new life, reflecting the human dignity that all persons possess as creatures of God.

Voting is one act of faithful citizens, advocating for ethical principles grounded in Catholic teaching is another. You can become part of a grassroots advocacy network that raises awareness of legislation affecting family life, education, peace and justice, and many other areas. Visit the web site to learn how you can help put Catholic principles into place in public policy.