Blog of Rights

Op-Eds and Legislation Supporting Comprehensive Sex Education

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 4:13pm
Over the last couple days, several op-eds supporting comprehensive sex education have appeared in papers across the country. The Citrus County Chronicle discusses a new bill in the Florida Legislature that would require schools to notify parents about the content of sex education classes. The writer calls on lawmakers to "stop putting moral Band-Aids on a crisis that ultimately affects our entire community." In other words, instead of focusing on parental notice for sex ed classes, lawmakers should turn their attention to the actual content of curricula and ensure that teens learn how to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs. A column in the Plainview Daily Herald out of Texas looks at a recent Worth the Wait presentation at Coronado Junior High and Plainview high school. In response to Worth the Wait's abstinence-only-until-marriage approach, the author asks: "Why can't we acknowledge reality, put aside the things of yesteryear and adjust to the ever-changing facts and facets of contemporary life?" In Ohio, where state officials have said that there will be no new applications for federal abstinence-only-until-marriage dollars after the current funding cycle ends on September 30, and the governor's recent budget stripped $1 million in state aid for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, an op-ed questions whether it is wise to turn down the money.
Ohio should incorporate an approach that teaches that abstinence is preferable but acknowledges that some teens will choose to be sexually active, and gives them all the information they need to deal with the inherent risks of that choice.
A good idea, however, federal guidelines prohibit abstinence-only-until-marriage programs from providing teens with information on how to use contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs. North Carolina's Creative Loafing has an op-ed criticizing abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The author notes that the local ACLU affiliate recently contacted school officials regarding inaccurate and judgmental teachings in the curricula. And the op-ed coincides with the introduction of a bill in the General Assembly that would support comprehensive sex ed. Legislation supporting comprehensive sex education was also seen in New York -- the Healthy Teens Act would provide funds for schools to teach abstinence and provide information on birth control. And the Real Education About Life (REAL) Act was dropped in the U.S. House of Representatives last week (a version is also in the Senate). REAL would provided states with federal funding for comprehensive sex education including information on contraception.
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