/Inform[H]er Roundup Going deeper on sex-ed

Inform[H]er Roundup Going deeper on sex-ed

Trainers and researchers on the ground reiterate the fact that the state’s abstinence based sex education curriculum is the greatest barrier to children learning about sexuality. However, the sex policy will not be renewed until 2021. Districts can choose to have abstinence only or abstinence plus lessons. The latter can talk about contraceptives, but not demonstrate how to use them. Even if a district adopts the comprehensive abstinence plus policy, students can still receive an abstinence only education. This emphasizes that sex is only possible when a couple marries. Josh McCawley is the deputy director of Teen Health Mississippi and works with districts to develop their sex education curricula. His organization receives funding from a federal grant that is funneled through state health department to help districts with all aspects of sex education. We provide support for teachers as much as they require, because they are the ones implementing it. McCawley stated that they don’t teach. It’s up to them. “We want them to feel confident and comfortable in their knowledge and have these discussions.” This goal is to assist districts with removing barriers that prevent children from sex education. The law that required districts to adopt a policy on sex education didn’t provide funds for districts to purchase materials or train teachers. Districts can participate in the program, Creating Healthy Teens and Responsible Teens. Teen Health Mississippi assists teachers who are not from science or health but have a background in computer programming or English. Teen Health Mississippi also helps to ensure that they are trained in sex education. McCawley can also help with logistical problems, such as how to divide boys, girls, and opt-out students into 3 classes, per state policy. This is possible despite a tight budget. McCawley says he cannot do everything and tries to make teachers as inclusive as possible. Our hands are tied when it comes to sex education content. What can be taught is limited to what’s on the curriculum. He said that none of the programs address LGBTQ-plus issues. However, teachers often raise these issues. “During training we talk about making classrooms gender neutral.” McCawley hopes that the Legislature will give the health department more control over curriculum development and ensure districts follow evidence-based policies. Aallyah Wright, Mississippi Today’s reporter, will be covering the Delta’s on-the-ground support programs and interventions for teenage moms. Stay up to date with our Delta newsletter. The roundup is a section of our monthly newsletter for women and girls, The Inform[H]er.