Florida’s Sex Education School Policies

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide information about sex education policies governed by the state of Florida. Sex education is a controversial topic and has been so throughout history. Florida laws as it pertains to sex education require schools to educate school aged children with basic awareness of sexual abstinence. There are 74 districts in the state of Florida, of those 74 only 15 districts have implemented comprehensive sexual health education programs. In the Journal of Adolescent Health written by Hall, K.S., Kelli Komro, A., Sale, J., & Santelli J. (2016) indicates that abstinence only sex education curriculum failed in delaying sexual encounters, reducing risky sexual behaviors, nor does it improve reproductive health outcomes. This paper will argue that the current curriculum in place is not effective. This paper will propose the implementation of a more comprehensive sex education program for children in Florida.

The Debate

For over 20 years policymakers have debated on the topic of sex education as it pertains to children. Policymakers argue that abstinence only education is the only moral way to prevent adolescents from having sex before marriage rather than comprehensive sex education. law Because of these ongoing debates sexual education curriculums are vague and focus on morality rather than teaching prevention. Other politicians, parents, and teachers argue that comprehensive sexual education courses are the best way to teach adolescents healthy sexual behaviors, proper contraceptive usage, and disease and pregnancy prevention.

The circumstances that has led the development of the Sex Education law

The topic of sex education is a battlefield for conservatives and liberals within our government. It wasn’t until the turn of the twentieth century where it is believed that people had lost all moral concepts. At this time there was rise in prostitution, higher rates of intoxication, and a rise of venereal diseases. At the front of the charge for moral reform was the social hygiene movement. Founded in the United States in 1905 by Prince A. Morrow, the social hygiene movement argued that the problems of sex arose, not from an evil human nature, but from ignorance. Education was key, and teaching the young was essential (Firmin, 2014). Since then the implementation of the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA), Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation act of 1996.

Florida’s Sex Education School Policies

The 2016 sex education legislation failed to pass in the state of Florida. HB 859/ SB 1056; this particular legislation would require every public school in the state of Florida to offer comprehensive sex education programs which will cover topics such as family planning, human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/ AIDS prevention, and other sexually transmitted diseases. As long as the program offered material that was medically accurate and provided truthful information that was age appropriate. Parents and guardians were able to opt their children out of the program as long as they provided written consent. Out of 74 districts throughout the state of Florida only 15 were on board, which leaves the remaining 59 districts teaching abstinence-only sex education courses. According to an AGI study; it has been noted that sexual education policies in the south predominately endorse abstinence only education over comprehensive education.

See Figure 1. Below.

Sex Ed Geography

The type of sexuality education policy adopted by school districts varies widely by region.

Source: Landy DJ, Kaeser L and Richards CL, Abstinence promotion and the provision of information about contraception in public school district sexuality education policies, Family Planning Perspectives, 1999, 31(6):280-286.

How do these laws/policy influence culture?

The current health education law is not beneficial to Florida’s adolescent population. Florida state current sex education curriculum is an abstinence-based teaching. It has been proven this type of teaching is not successful; based on a 2013 study, over 30 percent of high school students are currently being sexually active, the study compared that percentage to the nation’s total of 34 percent. It is evident that the implemented sexual education school policies have a negative impact on youths throughout the state. In 2013, Florida had the fourth highest rate of syphilis among young people age 15-19.8 (Youths, 2016). As of 2015, the people affected most by this form of teaching are youths 20 years and younger; these teens come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Non-Hispanic White women have the highest rate of 37 percent compared to the United States 39 percent; African American trail behind 31 percent compared to the United States 22 percent, American Indian/Alaskan Native 0, Asian or Pacific Islander 1 percent vs. United States 2 percent, and Hispanics 30 percent vs. United States average of 35 percent. There is an obvious trend that needs to be addressed. These policies are in a serious need of revision and change is extremely essential for the future of our youths. Poor health outcomes among African Americans and Hispanics living in Florida are undeniably high. As of 2014, sixty-seven percent of new HIV/AIDS cases were reported by African American and Hispanic women ages 13-24.

The need for Repeal.

Years of research and scientific studies have confirmed that comprehensive sexual education trunps abstinence-only curriculum. The proof is in the numbers. 12.6% of Florida high schoolers have reported having unprotected sex, although it is under the national percentage which 13.7 percent; which is a cause for concern. HIV rates among this population is over 1.5 percent nationwide according to the 2013 Florida Youth Risk Behavior Study. Congress need to re-evaluate their findings and implement comprehensive sex education. Parent’s will can still have the option to exclude their child if they choose too, however, it should be mandatory for all school districts to include it as part of the health education curriculum. Abstinence-only education does not provide adequate detailed sexual health information.

Disadvantages of Abstinence-Only Curriculum

There are a number of reasons why abstinence only curriculum studies do not work. First, it is not realistic. Second, the United States of America has the highest rates of teenage pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases among other industrialized nations, see figure 2 below. Lastly, emphasizing of self-discipline as part of healthy sexual behaviors is not enough, it is a disservice to the youth especially for those from underprivileged environments.

Figure 2.

U.S. teenage pregnancy and birth rates are high compared to other developed countries.

International DataU.S.FranceGermanyNetherlandsCanadaUK

Pregnancy rate (2002–5)72.225.718.811.829.241.3€§

Birth rate (2006)41.97.810.13.813.326.7

Rates are listed as numbers per 1000 girls 15–19 years old,

€§15–18 years old [1]–[4]. (Hall, 2011)

Advantages of Comprehensive Sexual Health Curriculum

Comprehensive sex education studies discuss the importance of abstinence before marriage along with in depth medically approve information about sexually transmitted infection and disease to age appropriate public-school kids. A recent examination of the National Survey of Family Growth to determine the impact of sexuality education on sexual risk-taking for young people ages 15-19, revealed that teens who received comprehensive sexuality education were 50% less likely to report a pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education. (Hadd-Wissler, 2013) Comprehensive sex education along with parental support can and has reduced sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy rates in states that have implemented in their school district. It is imperative that the current sex education policies in the state of Florida be revised to protect the health care of our adolescents.

Conclusion

I was unaware of sexual health policies in the United States. As a Florida resident with two children one in public high school and the other in public middle school system, I find the rates of sexually active youths that are oblivious to the danger of partaking in unprotected sex. The extremely high rates of HIV/AIDS diagnosis are a cause for concern. I learned that conservatives in congress play a big role as to why comprehensive sex education is not law. Personally, it saddens me that the health of our youth is deteriorating right in front of our eyes and unless our voices are heard they will continue to slip through the cracks because national leaders refuse to see the issue and theorize the issue as “”lack of moral restraint””.

References

Firmin, V. J. (2014). A History of Sex Education in the United States Since 1900. Washington D.C: Huber.

Hadd-Wissler, V. (2013). Why Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education? Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

Hall, K. F.-H. (2011). Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S. US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, 6-10.

Youths, A. f. (2016). Young People in Florida Focus on Sexual and Reproductive health. Washington D.C.: Advocates for Youths.

Did you like this example?