While eighth-graders in North Clackamus, Ore., are learning the correct way to put on condoms, some of their counterparts in New Hanover, N.C., are using books that say, “There is not a lot of proof that condoms really work. Would you trust your life to one?”
State and district officials are dealing with a variation of that question. With the April release of a congressionally authorized study showing that kids who took abstinence-only classes were just as likely to have premarital sex as those who weren’t in the classes, states are asking: Should we entrust our students to abstinence-only programs?
For a rising number of states, the answer is no. While a majority still requires that abstinence be stressed in sex education, lately there has been a movement toward comprehensive education that teaches about contraception along with abstinence. This shift has been bolstered by Democratic gains in statehouses and Congress.
The debate over sex education has been long-running and passionate. Those who favor abstinence-only classes say comprehensive programs send mixed messages to teenagers. But advocates of comprehensive courses say abstinence-only programs don’t give teens the facts they need to make informed choices.
So far this year three states – Colorado, Iowa and Washington – have enacted laws requiring schools that teach sex education to ensure the information is “medically accurate” or “science-based” – code words for a comprehensive program.
In Minnesota, an education budget bill with a similar requirement is on the governor’s desk. The Kansas Board of Education in April issued new guidelines that favor comprehensive sex education, and a bill pending in New York would fund such programs.
Those are significant victories for comprehensive sex-education advocates, considering that, before this year, only one state, Maine, had enacted a similar law since 2000. Currently, there are six states with a strong definition of “medical accuracy” written into their sex-education laws, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), which opposes abstinence-only programs. The states are California, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Missouri and Washington.
This from Stateline.org.