Mississippi School Boards in Detailed Sex Ed Debate

Local school officials in Hernando, Mississippi are considering policy in the wake of legislation enacted last year which requires districts to teach sex education. Each school board can choose whether to implement abstinence-only or abstinence-plus curriculum and has to have a plan in place by June 30 this year.

The law also states that sex education must be age appropriate, taught in single sex classes and that abortion should be taught as a method of birth control. Each student, or their parents, have the right to opt out of the sex-related education.

A study by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy found that:

About 92 percent of parents surveyed said that sex-related education should be taught in the Mississippi public school system at an age appropriate grade level.

Six percent of parents did not agree, and most of these parents gave the reason that sex education should be taught by parents.

School boards throughout the state have been taking part in meetings with parents, teachers and administrators to discuss which option is best for their schools.

A recent study by the American Journal for Health Studies showed that students in abstinence-only education attained higher math grades than the control group. The study was small however and its findings will need to be verified by larger trials adjusted to account for confounding variables. It remains to be seen whether the preliminary study will influence Mississippi school boards in their choice.

Regardless of which type of sex education ends up being taught in Mississippi schools, it's likely to be a welcome to boon to most parents after the recent spate of news reports about inappropriate sexual behavior between children in classrooms and playgrounds throughout the country.

The majority of parents (64.8 percent) thought that sex-related education should first be taught in middle school (grades 5, 6, and 7).

Most parents (61 percent) thought that students should be separated by gender during sex-related education classes. The same percentage expressed the opinion that parents should have to sign a form in order for a student to participate in sex-related education classes.

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