HB 999 requires Mississippi public schools teach abstinence only until marriage or abstinence “plus” which includes talk of condoms and contraception (although discussion is strictly regulated and there can’t be age-appropriate demonstrations on the proper use of condoms).
Over half of the state’s schools chose, not surprising to many, abstinence only programming. However a majority of schools with some of the highest teen birth rates chose the abstinence plus. Referred to by comprehensive sex ed advocacy group, Mississippi First as Priority 1 (P1) these schools overwhelmingly located in The Delta – the poorest region in Mississippi.
But, when the state of Mississippi – the actual Mississippi Department of Education had to choose a curriculum for their schools, they chose abstinence plus. There are four state run schools – The School for the Blind and The School for the Deaf, both located in Jackson and the School of Math and Science in Columbus, Mississippi and The School of the Arts in Brookhaven, Mississippi – they chose an abstinence plus approach.
Each school district’s board of education (BOE) selected a curriculum whether ab-plus or ab-only. These decisions were to not be made in a vacuum and with public input and professional input. So, while half the state’s schools went with abstinence only, it is worthwhile to note the state BOE selected abstinence-plus.