A Senate committee rejected 8 to 7 an attempt to allow local school boards to decide whether to teach human sexuality, keeping alive a plan backed by Gov. Gerald L. Baliles to mandate family-life courses starting in kindergarten.

The substitute measure defeated by the Senate Education and Health Committee would not have required instruction about contraception or drug abuse, subjects approved last year in a state Board of Education plan.

"We're not going to try to carry out all the programs of Planned Parenthood and others in our educational system," said state Sen. Frank W. Nolen (D-Augusta), in pushing the bill for local control. He added that as envisioned by the Board of Education, the program would teach contraception in connection with activities that are illegal in Virginia, such as premarital sex.

"We would like to think parents are teaching their children at home, but they are not," said state Sen. Emilie F. Miller (D-Fairfax). "Someone has to do it, and it has fallen to the schools."

Baliles has asked the General Assembly to approve $5.5 million for family-life education. The Board of Education voted in December to mandate family-life education starting in kindergarten, and detailed a grade-by-grade curriculum for it.