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Sex Education in the Sunshine State

Report: Sex Education in the Sunshine State: How Abstinence-Only-Until-
Marriage Programs Are Keeping Florida’s Youth in the Dark

 

  • Read full report here,and highlights from the report here.
  • See a related video on this report and a blog posting from an HTC member. 
  • Read a blog entry from Shelby Knox, young activist and sex education advocate featured in the award-winning documentary The Education of Shelby Knox. 

In March 2009, The Healthy Teens Campaign of Florida and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released a report on the explosion of failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs across the state with a particular emphasis on their presence in public schools. The report found:

  • Florida’s laws concerning sex education for young people in public schools are woefully inadequate.
  • Inadequate laws and evidence-based prevention programs have no doubt contributed to the nightmare of poor health outcomes in the state. The most recent data available shows Florida has the third highest rate in the nation of new AIDS diagnoses, the fifth highest rate of new HIV infections; teen pregnancy rates that are the sixth highest in the nation; nearly two-thirds of all new sexually transmitted diseases in the state were among young people; and 15% of new HIV infections occurred among those under the age of 25. In sum, Florida has some of the worst health outcomes on these key indicators of reproductive and sexual health nationwide.
  • These programs and other home-grown abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula and materials are being provided in Florida’s schools with no discernable oversight or standards of accountability. This has resulted in programs using fear and shame to scare students into not having sex, promoting antiquated gender stereotypes that discriminate against girls, providing outright inaccurate information, and using materials created twenty years ago in some cases that have not been updated.

The authors of this report therefore recommend the following policy actions for the state of Florida:

  1. Enact the Healthy Teens Act, a bill requiring Florida public schools that already teach information about sexually transmitted infections, family planning, and pregnancy to provide medically accurate and comprehensive sex education—including facts about abstinence and methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and the spread of diseases.
  2. Join the company of nearly half of the other states across the country that are no longer participating in the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program and reject these harmful monies. In this, Florida will save state resources and can re-direct efforts toward a more comprehensive approach to sex education.
  3. Adopt comprehensive sex education curricula in local school districts and provide adequate training for instructors who are teaching these materials.

Read more highlights from the report here.
View the related video, A Wealth of Funds, A Lack of Information 

You can help! Click here to urge your legislators to support the Healthy Teens Act.