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Sex Ed, or Lack Thereof

Utah's history with sex-ed still leaves plenty to be desired. The problems with ADUs and housing. Plus, the latest on efforts to save the Great Salt Lake.

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Sex Ed, or Lack Thereof
Can we talk STDs? We mean officially? We're asking because it's obvious that Utah's sex education isn't working. The Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke tells a story of a friend who teaches sex ed. It wasn't pretty. The National Conference of State Legislatures makes it clear: "The United States still has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world." And teens ages 15-to-24 represent 25% of the sexually active population, but somehow account for half of all new STDs. Utah is no longer an abstinence-only state because, hey, abstinence doesn't really work. Still, the Trump administration in deference to abstinence took $213 million from teen pregnancy prevention two years ago. A federal judge restored it last year. But abstinence and parental opt-in are still things here because, as former state school board member Lisa Cummins says, "We're a pro-family state." Just not a family planning state.

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Unaffordable Solutions
If you're looking for an apartment in urban Utah, you know it's pretty much unaffordable. And apparently because cities can't bring themselves to fund affordable housing, they are now looking at Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to solve the problem. Once called mother-in-law apartments, ADUs have morphed into tiny houses or other unattached dwellings on a property. The Legislature thought this was a win-win because of the profit motive for little landlords. The Trib looked at what's happened since rules were loosened last year, but it looks like city requirements might be adding too much to the cost. There are all kinds of considerations—parking, neighborhoods, height. It could be that not everyone should be a landlord. Then again, Amazon is offering modular homes for the undiscerning buyer.

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Saving the Lake
Hooray for research. This is about saving the Great Salt Lake, which, the Deseret News noted, has been in "historic decline." That's bad news as the lake generates $1.3 billion for the economy, not to mention acting as a Pacific flyway for millions of migratory birds each year. At the behest of the National Audubon Society, the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council commissioned a report "that looked at the aftermath of the decline of eight terminal saline lakes around the world with characteristics similar to that of the Great Salt Lake." The findings were depressing, and stunning. A resolution passed last year, and yet it just "calls on" Utah to act to save the lake. Air quality will surely be harmed by a growing dust bowl. And let's not even mention the effects of an inland port. Next step: Real action soon.

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