Justice

The Reason This School Board Rejected Birth Control Education Reveals a Dangerous Myth

In a blow to effective sex education, Charleston County School Board struck down a proposal to include lessons regarding contraception in their revised sex education curriculum for middle schoolers.

According to The Post and Courier, the school board members voted against adding a supplemental section featuring chapters and role-playing exercises on AIDS, HIV, STDs, healthy relationships, and birth control methods to their abstinence-based sex education program called "Make a Difference!."

Board member Tom Ducker gives some insight into what drove the decision to exclude those lessons. He told The Post and Courier:

"This is not 'games.' This is serious stuff that we should be teaching our kids about. I believe when we do that, in order to gain or keep their interest, you're also increasing their interest in sex. And I don't think most middle schoolers are even thinking about sex."

But Ducker is operating under a dangerous false assumption. A 2015 study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 percent of high school students in South Carolina (and 41 percent nationwide) reported having had sexual intercourse and 6 percent said they had sex for the first time before age 13 (compared to 3.9 percent nationwide).

"I think that the fear is that middle school is too young to educate teens on birth control, but the fear is completely misguided," April Borkman, a member of the health advisory committee in the district, told The Post and Courier. "This decision by the school board denies middle schools an opportunity to provide their young people with an option to receive vital reproductive health information in a safe setting. It's a missed opportunity and a disservice to our young people."

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Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, like the one approved by the school board, have proved to be highly ineffective, mainly because they deny the reality that the majority of teenagers in the United States are sexually active. As ATTN: has previously written, "in states with AOUM-as-best programs, teen pregnancy rates tend to be higher. For example, Mississippi, which has abstinence-only sex ed, has seen consistently higher teen birth rates than the national average in recent years."

Recognizing the research that has proven the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education, Obama proposed eliminating government funding for abstinence-only education in February, and the overall proposed federal budget for 2017 is awaiting approval by Congress.

[h/t ThinkProgress]