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Abstinence-Plus Sex Education Proposed in Mississippi

The Mississippi state House passed a bill Tuesday on an 84-35 vote that will allow “abstinence-plus” sex education to be offered in the state. The bill (see PDF) will “require each local school board to adopt a sex-related education policy to implement abstinence-only or abstinence-plus education into its local school district’s curriculum.” The state House may debate the bill further before it moves to the state Senate. The “abstinence-plus” curriculum would focus primarily on abstinence, but would also include information about contraceptives and condoms. The proposed legislation prohibits any instruction “that abortion can be used to prevent the birth of a baby” and requires “boys and girls to be separated into different classes by gender at all times when sex-related education is discussed or taught.” Parental permission would be required for students to attend “abstinence-plus” classes. State Representative Cecil Brown (D), chair of the state House Education Committee, said, “I know it would be better if all this (sex education) was being taught at home, but it’s not happening and we have a responsibility [and opportunity] to do something about it,” according to the Associated Press. Teen birth rates in Mississippi are among the highest in the US. A Department of Education survey on teen pregnancy indicated that 91 of 121 Mississippi public school districts either did not have a sex education policy, or did not know if one existed, reported the Jackson Free Press.

Sources:

Mississippi HB 837; Associated Press 2/2/2010; Jackson Free Press 1/21/2010