Legislature: Sex Education Changes Being Revisited
Florida Democrats and a coalition of groups are renewing the push for more comprehensive sex education in public schools.
Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, has filed the Florida Healthy Teens Act, a bill that calls for public schools that receive state funding for sex education to “provide information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier-protection methods as a means of preventing pregnancy and reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS.”
The bill (HB 169) runs contrary to many schools’ abstinence-only health education programs, and follows the expiration this past summer of $13 million federal grant for abstinence education.
The legislation has failed the past few years, despite support from a coalition of nearly 100 groups that argue students need to be better educated for their health purposes. The Florida Catholic Conference and the Florida Family Policy Council have lobbied against the proposal, and stopped the bill from even getting out of committees in both chambers.
Mike McCarron, executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference said the conference will likely continue its opposition to the legislation.
A position paper by the conference against the bill reads “while a number of high school students are already engaging in sexual activity, encouraging present and future abstinence helps sexually active teens resume abstinence until marriage.”
But with high rates of HIV and teen pregnancies, some group members are hoping for a change of heart from the Legislature.
“We continue to rank worse and worse and worse in our health disparities for teens,” said Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood.