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Most Parents Want Sex Ed in School

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 09 Dec 2011 09:33am | comments
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A new study says most parents want sex education in the classroom.  MPB's Southern Education Desk reporter, Annie Gilbertson, reports the new survey is fueling a debate on whether schools should choose Abstinence Plus or Abstinence Only instruction.

The survey from Center of Mississippi Health Policy released yesterday says 92 percent of parents want sex ed to be taught in schools.  Therese Hanna directs the center and says she's heard anecdotally what parents want, but wanted to see the numbers.

Hanna: There is a lot of debate about the issue and no one knew what parents thought.  They knew what they had heard from certain parents, but you really don’t know until you ask the question.

And the question comes after the state legislature decided to give school districts the option of teaching Abstinence Plus in the 2011-2012 school year. Prior to this decision, school districts had to teach Abstinence Only which does not require instruction on contraceptives.

Despite having a choice for the first time, some school boards have already decided to stay with Abstinence Only.   Zack Huffman sits on the Houston Public School Board in Chickasaw County.  He says he's pushing for Abstinence Plus, but is taking into account the concerns of Abstinence Only parents.

Huffman: A lot of parents feel it is not the schools issue to teach something people deem as intimate as sex.

School boards have until June 30th to decide which they will be teaching next year, but the Mississippi Health Department has already decided which program to support. Dr. Mary Currier, the State Health Officer, says the department's decision to back Abstinence Plus is data driven. 

Currier: So what we’ve been doing isn’t working. The curricula that are currently being reviewed by Mississippi Department of Education have research behind them that show they actually change behavior. 

The Mississippi Department of Education is reviewing Abstinence Plus curricula already being used in other states.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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