Associated Press (02.17.12) - Friday, February 17, 2012
Mississippi law requires school districts to decide by June 30
how to incorporate either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus
sex education classes into the curriculum for the 2012-13
school year. Abstinence-only programs can include discussion
about condoms and contraceptives only in the context of their
failure and risk rates. Abstinence-plus programs will have
more leeway in discussing these topics, but will still address
risk and failure rates. Boys and girls will receive the
optional lessons separately in high school.
Among districts across the state:
*Hattiesburg School Superintendent James Bacchus said he will
present data at the March school board meeting to help its
members make a decision, which is expected in April.
*In Greenwood, the school board intends to discuss options and
take a vote in April. Board President George Ellis said he is
still reviewing information on the issue.
*Starkville schools in north Mississippi decided on an
*School boards in Columbus and Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties
are still studying the issue.
In Columbus, an advisory committee comprising parents,
teachers, principals, counselors, and nurses has recommended
an abstinence-plus program.
"We feel this is what's best for our district," said Janet
Lewis, a spokesperson for Columbus schools. The school board
delayed a vote on the issue this week.
"We have a little while left to pass this, but we want to be
able to apply for grant money to offset the cost of the
program," Lewis said, noting the state Department of Health
has $2 million in grants to help districts implement sex
education programs. "If we receive the grant money, it will
pay for all of the materials and it will pay for instructional
costs ... it could mean the program could be at no cost to the