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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.

3 Responses »

  1. The schools need to stay out of the sex business. No telling what they will teach the children in the State of Florida. What about improving role modle behavior, and turning off the television which has become an evening portoal to pornography teaching teenagers more about non safe sex behavior.

  2. Planned Parenthood spokespersons have a habit of using phrases such as "high rates" and "worse and worse" with no real data and sources to back it up. The fact is teen pregnancy rates continued to increase from 1970, when contraception (family planning programs) started receiving millions in federal dollars until they peaked in 1994 at 45.8 per 1000 teen girls - mostly unwed. Since abstinence education programs started receiving funding in 1996 until 2007 Florida has experienced a 36.07 reduction in teen births. If contraception education, commonly known as comprehensive sex education was so effective, why weren't teen birth rates declining from 1970 to 1994? Why did they only start declining (along with teen abortion rates) shortly after the federal government started funding abstinence until marriage education in 1995? These facts came from the Center for Disease Control NCHS Data 2007 and the Florida Vital Statistics Annual Report of 2007. Check it out and then decide which program you want for your teenager - abstinence until marriage or "wrap it up" and hope there's no pregnancy, disease, broken heart or emotional damage.

    • Teenage pregnancy declined until 2007 because of 1) the availability of contraceptives and 2) abstinence. The availabilty of contraceptives increase because of the new forms of birth control introduced on the market ("plan B", the ring, the sponge,low-dose estrogen birth control pills) and the popularization of using condoms for safer sex to lower the risk of getting HIV. These findings were publshed in a report "U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics
      National and State Trends and
      Trends by Race and Ethnicity" by the Guttmacher Institute. Teenagers had not only access to the Internet to purchase and learn about birth control, but to pharmacies no longer keeping non prescription birth control behind the counter.
      My assuptions that pregnancy rates went up after 2007 was that the recesssion hit teenagers and 20 somethings the hardest and a teenager with a baby can get welfare for food and housing.