Another Attack on the American Family?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 8, 2004.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: Another unbelievable intrusion into the American family by the state of California. Yesterday, the Democrat-controlled assembly education committee in Sacramento killed a bill that would have required public schools to inform parents about how and when their kids received sex education (search). Basically, the politicians are putting the burden of knowledge on the parents. They must proactively seek information about sex education in the school. They will not automatically be told when and what their kids are being exposed to.

Most of the politicians who voted to kill the bill are too frightened to debate the decision, but not Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, who joins us now from California capital of Sacramento.

All right, here's the deal on this for me: If a public school brings in an outside speaker on sex, the school does not have to inform the parents of the children, even if they're little kids. That's flat-out wrong, Ms. Cohn.

REBECCA COHN, D-CALIF., ASSEMBLYWOMAN: Well, first, Bill, thanks for inviting me. I always enjoy watching the lively discussions on your show. Let me tell you, I voted against this bill because it simply wasn't necessary and furthermore it was very badly written. California already has a law in place that provides parental notification. Parents can opt out their children if they want to. And the curriculum is set and cannot be changed. And parents can come in and view it, etcetera.

O'REILLY: Ms. Cohn, we hear that all the time from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The reason they're striking the law down is because it isn't written well.

This is a simple question. I have my second-grader in a public school in California. The school principal decides to bring in a pro-gay activist to address the students on the subject of bullying or, you know, acceptance of alternative lifestyles. The school, if you had voted for this bill, would have had to call me so I could have said yes or no. Now I don't even have to know about the speaker. I don't know about the speaker. Flat-out wrong, Ms. Cohn. Flat-out wrong.

COHN: Well, actually, you're incorrect. The school wouldn't have to call you. The bill actually would have required a 10-day notification if there was a change in the curriculum.

O'REILLY: And that would be a change. If you brought in somebody from the outside that wasn't listed, all right, and that is the bone of contention here. Splitting hairs on this one.

COHN: I don't disagree that parents need to be informed.


COHN: We have a notification process that goes out at the beginning of the year.

O'REILLY: And you know as well as I do because I was a teacher, that that changes all the time.

COHN: I understand.

O'REILLY: That speakers come in all the time.

COHN: I understand. And it can change, Bill. Bill. Now, listen. It can change when a teacher gets ill and a substitute is needed. How are you going to provide for a 10-day notification when somebody calls in sick?

O'REILLY: No, it can change if you want to have a speaker come in.

COHN: You wouldn't hand it to business.

O'REILLY: It's the speaker deal that I'm objecting to here. And this is what the objection is all throughout the state of California, not just by me, is that there are activist teachers and principals in every public school system, not just California, who want to bring in controversial speakers. And you know, I support that but I want the parent to have the option.

COHN: Well, actually, Bill, you're incorrect on one issue. 84 percent of parents in California want sex education taught. Bill, we know.

O'REILLY: Why am I incorrect on that?

COHN: Well, 84 percent of parents want sex ed talk.

O'REILLY: I didn't say that wasn't true.

COHN: There's about 1 to 5 percent of parents who opt out.

O'REILLY: So what? And that's fine. And all I want.

COHN: We really know what this is about.

O'REILLY: Ms. Cohn, look, you guys killed a bill here that would have protected children -- actually, would have given parents more information about controversial speakers that may come in. You killed that bill. Now what's going to happen, and you know what's going to happen, is that a speaker's going to come in, daddy and mommy aren't going to know, little Stanley's going to come home and say, gee, guess what I heard today? And they're going to go what! And that's what's going to happen.

COHN: Well, actually, I don't think that's what's going to happen, because if what you're concerned about is who is speaking.

O'REILLY: Correct.

COHN: I think that there's another way to address that. And I don't think this bill would have done that.

O'REILLY: Yes, it would have. It flat-out would have done it right here.

COHN: If you're concerned about what is being taught, that cannot be changed. That curriculum is set by the board of education.

O'REILLY: Look, Ms. Cohn, you're just splitting hairs here. Under the banner of sex education, you can take points of view all day long. You can have somebody in for abstinence, you can have somebody in for total wildness, you can have somebody in for inclusion. You can have all kinds of things in. All this bill would have done was when somebody's coming into the school that isn't listed on the original curriculum, the parents get a heads-up. And you guys said the parents don't have the right to the heads-up. Baloney.

COHN: No, that's not what was said.

O'REILLY: Giving you the last word.

COHN: I was sitting in the committee for the entire time. And I can tell you that the discussion was nothing like this. We all agree that parents need to be involved and informed. And if they have concerns about it, they need to know in advance. We have.

O'REILLY: Then why did you kill the bill? Because that bill would have done it.

COHN: No, the bill would absolutely not have done it. The author was trying to write the bill in committee. It had big flaws, including one big flaw, which would have prohibited teachers from teaching abstinence. This was not a well-written bill.

O'REILLY: All right, Ms. Cohn. We appreciate you coming on. You're the only one who had the guts to do it. And we'll let the audience decide, as always.

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