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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

LOUISIANA: Student Sex Survey Bill Rejected


Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (05.24.12) - Thursday, May 24,

The state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have allowed Louisiana to survey students about sexual risk behaviors. Currently, state law outlaws such surveying, which would typically be conducted to inform public health policy. A top advisor to Gov. Bobby Jindal joined social conservatives in testifying against the bill, which already had cleared the House.

Louisiana had the nation's highest rate of syphilis and the third-highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in 2009, and the state teen pregnancy rate is higher than the nation's.

"If you don't fix this problem, Louisiana is going to get worse," testified Rep. Pat Smith, the bill's author. Her measure authorized surveying by the state Department of Education; parents would retain the right to opt their children out of the process.

The bill is "too broad" and might lead to inquiries that "are inappropriate to be in statute," Stafford Olivia Palmieri, Jindal's chief of staff, told senators. Smith said the surveys would be modeled after those distributed by CDC; Kathleen Benefield of the American Family Association of New Orleans testified that such surveys are part of the "pornification of American girls." "We already have the data," Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) said to Smith, as he waved printed state disease statistics. "It seems like you're saying, 'let's just keep studying, keep studying,'" he added.

"We know the [disease] data. But how do they get to this point?" replied Smith. "The statistics in Southern states show that we have the biggest problems. It's in these states where we listen to the religious right," she said.


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