House Considers Alternative Sex Education Program

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

With Mississippi's teen pregnancy rate still at or near the top nationwide, the state House of Representatives decide this week to consider an option to the 'abstinence only' program taught in public schools.

But will it work or simply encourage sex before marriage?

Every year the state Department of Human Service hosts rallies on the capitol steps to promote abstinence as the only 100 percent effective birth control method. And according to their Web site, births to teen mothers are down. But the problem still exists.

"We don't have any problem teaching abstinence as a part of this curriculum, but the fact of the matter is it's more to it than that," said Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville.

House Bill 234 creates a pilot program to institute a sex education program in the two schools in the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate. The program will include safe sex methods.

"The part about how to use contraceptives, showing kids how to do it, and that's the sort of thing I felt like that was an endorsement of sex outside of marriage," said Rep. Phillip Gunn of Clinton.

Parents must choose for their teen to be a part of the class, and each class will be separated according to gender. Still, Gunn said he feels the House is walking a fine line.

"This is a parent issue. Parents need to step up to the plate and teach their kids what they want them to know in this areas and I think when we start putting the schools in that role we're getting on to dangerous ground," Gunn said.

"We've got the highest teen pregnancy in the nation," said Holland. "We've got a lot of issues dealing with public health that need to be resolved in this area. It's to get a little more aggressive in our health education area to make sure kids understand consequences for their behavior."

Current state law gives school districts the right to change their program from abstinence only to safe sex initiatives, if the school board votes for the change.


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