Blog of Rights

Sex Ed Round-Up: Alabama, Arizona, and Florida

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:11pm
Alabama: The Birmingham News reports that teen pregnancy is on the decline in the state. The only mention in the article of the role that prevention plays in reducing teen pregnancy comes from Don Bogie, a sociologist with the Auburn University Center for Demographic Research in Montgomery. Michael Sibley, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Education notes that several school systems are using the curriculum Choosing the Best. We know this program has a host of problems from distorting information to relying on messages of fear and shame to persuade teens not to have sex. Meanwhile, Mentoring Matters, a teen-mentoring program out of the Charles Henderson High School, in Troy, Alabama, is gearing up for a new year. The group promotes abstinence until marriage and secondary virginity. The article notes that the program receives its funding through federal abstinence-only-until-marriage dollars. Arizona: Few parents are attending meetings at schools in Flagstaff Unified School District to discuss the new sex ed curriculum. Betty Smith, the sexual health instructor who is putting on the meetings at Coconino High School and Flagstaff High School, said some sessions have had zero turnout. The district has an opt-out policy and so far only three parents have chosen to keep their children out of the class. On the other hand, local parents seem to have generated a fair amount of interest in the sex ed curriculum in Kyrene. In recent weeks, 18 new members have joined the district's health committee, a group of parents, teachers, and administrators that advises the district on resources for the new sex education curriculum. This past weekend in Yuma, 160 teens took virginity pledges at a Silver Ring Thing event. Back in February, the ACLU settled a case challenging federal funding of religious activities in the program. And finally, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy released data showing that teen pregnancy is costing taxpayers in Arizona at least $268 million a year. The article notes that Arizona has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Florida: The debate over sex ed has come to St. Lucie County. In September, the county Children's Services Council approved a budget that includes funds for teen pregnancy prevention programs. The program called Teen Time works with teens and parents to provide information and support regarding sexuality and prevention of STDs and pregnancy. The council also funds a program called Teen Life Choices that promotes abstinence. And now St. Lucie educators are considering where the county should move beyond abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are currently in the schools. The potential change in approach is especially needed as the county has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS among African Americans in any Florida county.
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