Legislation passed late last week in the Mississippi state House that would allow the state’s Departments of Education and Health to test a comprehensive sexual education pilot program in two school districts. The bill is, in part, a reaction to a recently released Center for Disease Control report that shows that Mississippi has one of the sharpest increases in teen pregnancy rates in the nation, a higher teen birth rate, and rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases.
The proposed program would require parental consent for students to participate. According to KSLA, the program would require that female and male students be separated to discuss certain topics, including sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Abortion would not be addressed under the program outlined in the bill.
Sex education of any kind is not currently required in Mississippi schools, but there is a focus on abstinence-only programs. Democratic state Representative John Hines told the Clarion Ledger that the state’s focus on abstinence is not working because “babies are having babies and they can’t take care of them.”