Mississippi takes new approach to sex education - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mississippi takes new approach to sex education

(WMC-TV) - It's back to school time, and schools in Mississippi are taking a new approach to sex education as they start the year.

With one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, the state wants to make some changes.

"What they're looking for, in the long run, is those numbers to turn around," said Associate Superintendent Keith Williams.

This year, a new law requires districts to choose a state-approved sex education program, either abstinence-only, or abstinence-plus.

DeSoto County Schools will teach abstinence-only this year for 6th through 12th graders.

A committee of parents, teachers, and community members met to discuss and vote on the issue earlier this year.

The decision to teach abstinence only is one that not every parent in the state's largest district agrees with.

"We have a lot of teen pregnancies in this county and I'd like to see that go down a lot and you can't do that with abstinence only," said parent Angie Little.

Abstinence-plus can teach about STDs and contraceptives. But more than half of the counties in the Magnolia State side with DeSoto; choosing abstinence-only.

Elizabeth Breland agrees with the district's decision for her son.

"When he's married and grown and he can take on those responsibilities, then he can go out and have sex. As a teenager, that's not what I teach my child to do, abstinence is what I teach my child," said Elizabeth Breland.

While the research-based program is required to be offered by the district, the schools will send a note home to parents a week before instruction so they can make the choice for their child.

"Parents still have choices. If parents decide they don't want their child to be included in this program, all they have to do is opt out of that program," said Williams.

The district will have curriculum information available for parents to look at, but we're told there is no set date for the instruction at this time.

Teachers and administrators will go through training in the coming weeks.

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