Salt Lake Tribune (04.11.12) - Monday, April 16, 2012
In 2010, only 11.3 percent of Utah's public secondary schools
taught teens about the efficacy of condoms, how to obtain
them, and the importance consistent and proper use - the
lowest percentage out of 45 states surveyed by CDC.
Utah law permits schools to teach about contraception, but
bars advocating its use. Schools districts may choose
abstinence-only or abstinence-based curriculum, and students
must have their parents' consent to participate. Gov. Gary
Herbert recently vetoed a bill that would have let school
districts drop sex education completely, banning contraceptive
instruction for those that retained it.
Karrie Galloway, CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of
Utah, noted that "teens are making their own decisions" on the
issues while adults continue fighting. A Youth Risk Behavior
Surveillance System report found that, in 2009, 46 percent of
US teens reported having had sex. Utah, however, does not
survey teens on sexual activity.
Galloway referred to the condom education statistics as
"abysmal." "Take the morality out of it," she continued.
"Focus on it as a public health issue and say, 'Do we want our
kids this ignorant?'" The Utah Department of Health reported
the highest rates of chlamydia in 2010 were among girls ages
15 to 19.
Dalane England, vice president for issues with the Utah Eagle
Forum, disagrees. "When you talk about abstinence-only ... you
get more abstinence."
Brigham Young University Assistant Professor Cougar Hall, who
trains health teachers, was most surprised that 12.4 percent
of surveyed schools reported teaching teens how to access
condoms. To avoid violating state law, he said he would advise
teachers not to tell students where to get condoms, even
though he personally feels schools should advocate for correct
and consistent condom use.