By Errol Castens | NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A student advocate for Mississippi First asked the Oxford School Board to consider implementing that organization’s Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens (CHART) abstinence-plus sex-education curriculum Monday night.
Cortez Moss, a public policy major at the University of Mississippi, said while Lafayette County’s rates of sexually transmitted disease and teen births are well below national and state averages, “they are still a problem.”
Lafayette County had a birth rate among females age 15 to 19 of 23.9 per 100,000; the national average was 39.1 per 100,000, and Mississippi’s average – the highest statewide rate in the nation – was 64.1.
Under House Bill 999, school districts must implement sex education – either “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus” – by the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year. The bill requires abstinence instruction and requires single-gender classes for sex education.
“Abstinence-plus has a central focus on teaching abstinence,” Moss said, “but it recognizes that some students will fall by the wayside and participate in risky behavior.” The “plus” is instruction mechanisms to minimize the risks of STDs and teen pregnancies, he added.
Matt Moore, the father of three Oxford students, offered a counterargument.
“A lot of people … will say, ‘the kids are going to do it anyway, so we might as well prepare them for that,’” he said. If that is the case, he contended, schools should teach them how to roll a marijuana joint, snort cocaine and drive drunk, because statistics say many will try those, too.
“It’s not the school district’s job to teach my child anything other than abstinence-only sex education,” Moore said.