By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Lee County School District will begin teaching sex education next year, as required by a new state law.
The law passed by the 2011 Legislature requires all districts in the state to begin teaching either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus sex education during the 2012-13 school year.
Lee County chose the abstinence-only course. The district approved the new policy during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Both options allow districts to include information on condoms and contraceptives but require them to include facts about their risks and failure rates. Abstinence-plus policies have more leeway to discuss contraceptives and sexually-transmitted diseases.
“From the information we had, there was not a lot of difference in what you could teach between the two options,” said Lee County School Board President Sherry Mask. “We felt it would be best to start with the abstinence-only program, and we could change it if we needed to after we became more familiar with the program.”
The courses will be optional, and parents will have to opt-in or opt-out for their child. Boys and girls will be separated, and the courses will be taught at the high school level.
“When we talked about that with the school board, the general consensus was that we did not want to get into something that parents felt like was really more their place to talk to their children about,” Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said of why the district chose the abstinence-only option.
The district does not currently teach sex education.
School districts will be able to choose from curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. The state law prohibits them from teaching that abortion can be used to prevent the birth of a baby.