Teen group pushing for ‘high-quality sex education’

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Last week, the Mississippi Youth Council, a 10-member youth advocacy program coordinated by Teen Health Mississippi, will host its annual Legislative Capitol Day. The group will advocate for HB 1537, a bill created by MYCouncil and sponsored by state Rep. Jeramey Anderson (D-Pascagoula) that would require public schools to adopt a “high-quality sex education curriculum.” Mississippi is one of 37 states that teaches an abstinence-based sex education. 

“Our youth partners look forward to Capitol Day each year,” said Justin Lofton, director of Youth Engagement and Advocacy at Teen Health Mississippi. “It’s their opportunity to build relationships with Mississippi lawmakers and share why their sex education bill is important to the lives of Mississippi youth.”

MYCouncil has participated in Capitol Day since 2014, advocating for improvements to Mississippi’s sex education that limits young people’s ability to make well-informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. This lack of information contributes to Mississippi being first in the nation for rates of gonorrhea, second in rates of teen pregnancy and third in rates chlamydia. The CDC also reports that 50 percent of new STI cases are young people ages 13 to 24.

“It’s not even up for debate whether complete sex education is a necessity,” said Fibiana Oladipo, a senior at Murrah High School. “It is political malpractice to deprive students of sex education, and it does more harm than good by ensuring that the cycle of unplanned teen pregnancy and STIs continues to affect youth across Mississippi.”

 HB 1537 would require sex education curricula to include topics such as consent, human-trafficking, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, healthy relationships and contraception, including condoms. The Mississippi Youth Council hopes lawmakers will see the need for such a robust sex education curricula to equip teens with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions.

Teen Health Mississippi works to ensure that all Mississippi teens have access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare. Learn more on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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