March 21, 2011 — Mississippi school districts will be required to provide some form of sex education under a bill (HB 999) signed by Gov. Haley Barbour (R) on Wednesday, AP/Hattiesburg American reports. School districts can choose to teach abstinence-only education or abstinence-plus education, which includes information about sexually transmitted infections and contraception. Under previous law, school districts were not required to teach any type of sex education.
The new law, which takes effect on July 1, will require classes to be separated by gender, and enrollment in sex education classes will require parental consent. Schools also will be prohibited from demonstrating condom use.
Mississippi has the highest gonorrhea and chlamydia rates in the nation, and consistently ranks among the highest teen pregnancy rates, according to state health officials (AP/Hattiesburg American , 3/17).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership