Majority of Mississippi school districts opt for abstinence-only education
According to a list released Friday by the Mississippi Department of Education, eighty-one districts have chosen to choose the abstinence-only path.
Seventy-one have chosen “abstinence-plus” approach, which could include mentions of contraception – but only without any demonstration of condoms.
Three districts have opted for a split approach, offering “abstinence-only” classes for younger grades and “abstinence-plus” classes for older grades.
A state law passed in 2011 requires school districts to offer some kind of sex education starting in the 2012-2013 academic year.
Parents must give permission for their children to take the classes, and boys and girls are separated.
According to the Associated Press, Jamie Bardwell, program director for the Women’s Fund, said Friday, “We are pleased and excited that so many districts decided to go with abstinence-plus. It definitely shows a need and a desire for more than just abstinence-only. It reflects the reality that 76 percent of Mississippi 12th-graders have already had sex.”
Also according to the Associated Press, State Health Department statistics show that in 2009, there were 7,078 live births to mothers aged 10 to 19. That meant that for every 1,000 girls or women in that age group, about 64 gave birth to a baby who lived. The rate for the U.S. was 39 live births among every 1,000 girls or women younger than 20.
Under a previous law, Mississippi school districts were not required to teach either comprehensive sex education or abstinence. Districts were allowed to teach abstinence, but if they wanted to teach more than that, they needed local school board approval.