BLACKFOOT — Rep. Julie VanOrden and her challenger for Idaho House Seat B in Legislative District 31, Julianne Young, will field questions during a public forum Tuesday in Blackfoot.
The forum will start at 7 p.m. at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center and allow both GOP candidates to address questions from community members and local journalists.
So far, debate between the candidates has centered largely on VanOrden’s recent efforts to update Idaho’s 1970s-era sex education law.
VanOrden, Boise State University student Hannah Gayle and BSU professor Sara Fry pushed for House Bill 579, which they said would better align Idaho’s sex ed law with 2017 academic standards in health.
The one-page bill died this session, but would have consolidated several sections of Idaho law into one space. It would have also required any information taught to be “medically accurate,” while encouraging a school-home partnership and allowing guardians to exempt their children from taking part.
Some lawmakers, religious leaders and community members — including Young — said the bill guts parental rights.
Young, who considers herself a “serious student of the United States Constitution,” grew up near Blackfoot, in East Idaho, and homeschooled her children through high school, according to her campaign website. She took specific issue with the bill’s language allowing school districts to partner with “community groups” to plan and evaluate sex ed instruction.
“It’s no longer the values of the home and the family that the school is supporting,” Young told KIFI Local News 8 in February.
VanOrden, who chairs the House Education Committee, argues that the bill is designed to both provide sex ed for kids not getting it at home and curb teen pregnancies and abortion in Idaho.
“As a committed defender of the rights of the unborn child, I will continue to do all that I can to protect these precious lives,” VanOrden recently wrote on Facebook.
Young and VanOrden will take questions from a panel of local journalists:
- Devin Bodkin, East Idaho reporter at Idaho Education News.
- Catie Clark, reporter at the Blackfoot Morning News.
- Ian Fennell, managing editor at the Idaho State Journal.
Panel members will also present the candidates with questions from the audience.
Young and VanOrden will square off in the May 15 GOP primary.