Alabama officials are in the process of reviewing their public school sex education policies after the state’s ban against consensual anal and oral sex was declared unconstitutional in June.
Michael Sibley, speaking for the Alabama Department of Education told website Al.com that the state’s inclusion that gay sex is illegal in their current sex education curriculum is legally incorrect.
The Alabama ban on sodomy was overturned in the state’s court in June after a man was convicted for sexual misconduct in spite of a jury finding that the homosexual encounter the man had was consensual.
Monica Rodriguez, president of the New York-basedSexuality Information and Education Council of the United States says the law was discriminatory against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
“It’s one of those forms of institutional oppression that’s bigger than one line in the sex policy,” said Rodriguez, whose group advocates for comprehensive sexual education reform. “It can be a pervasive attitude that influences school climate. It not only impacts health, but it impacts their academic achievement.
The Alabama state sex education law has stated that homosexuality is:
“Not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
Al.com’s Casey Toner writes that Susan Watson, the executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, says that the state’s ban on sodomy is a “relic from the past” and that it was “unconstitutional and unenforceable”.
Watson said that she was unaware of any legal challenges to the reference of the ban on sodomy in the sex ed requirements.
“If there are school districts promoting this teaching or if there is someone who is adversely affected — student or teacher — we want to know about it and would like to speak with them,” Watson said.
Al.com asked several school districts how sex ed was approached in their classrooms and most answered that it centered around abstinence. The majority of the schools said they do not address the issue of homosexuality.
Those who support abstinence say that it keeps kids “out of trouble”. Critics say that students are having sex and it is better to teach them how to use condoms and other birth control methods.
The CDC says that one-half of teens in Alabama did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse; 17% have had sex with four or more partners; 19% have not been taught about HIV and AIDS infection; and 14% did not use any kind of pregnancy prevention during their last sexual intercourse, according to a 2013 Risk Youth survey.
Mobile County School District schools outsource its sex-ed classes to the Women’s Resource Center and Crittenton Youth Services, in collaboration with the Mobile County Health Department Teen Center. The Lifeline Children’s Services website says that all abstinence education presenters “must be pro-life/pro-adoption.”