Mississippi bill would give schools option to teach ‘abstinence-plus’ sex education
The Mississippi House on Wednesday sent a bill to Gov. Haley Barbour, which, if he signs it, could mean more comprehensive sex education for state public schools, according to the Associated Press.
Mississippi has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the U.S., according to a Guttmacher Institute (PDF) report on national and state trends of pregnancies, births and abortions, released in January 2010. According to the report, in 2005, Mississippi ranked fifth among states, with a rate of 85 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. The state was behind New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.
Up to this point, no Mississippi schools have been required to teach any type of sex ed, according to the AP. Schools that elected to provide information on sex could only offer abstinence-only education.
The education bill, authored by Rep. Alyce G. Clarke (D-69th District), would amend the Mississippi Constitution to require each local school board to adopt a sex-related education policy, giving them the option to teach abstinence-only education or “abstinence-plus” education.
Districts who choose the latter form of sex ed would provide education that emphasizes abstinence until marriage but also includes health information on contraceptives. Districts with abstinence-plus education policies would be required to teach about the risk and failure rates of contraceptives, according to changes the Senate made to the bill.