Mississippi’s Sex Education Law (Miss. Code Ann. Section 37-13-171), passed in 2011 by the Mississippi Legislature, for the first time mandated that public school districts adopt a sex education policy—either abstinence-plus or abstinence-only—and implement a sex education curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. The law also contains implementation requirements that all school districts must follow, such as the separation of girls and boys for sex education classes and the requirement that parents opt-in their child for sex education classes.
The law included a repealer for July 1, 2016, meaning that this law would no longer exist. During the 2016 session, the Legislature voter to extend the repealer for five more years.
The CHART policy and initiative are in compliance with the state sex ed law. Training and technical assistance are provided to ensure that each CHART district also remains in compliance. (Review the requirements specific to the CHART initiative here.) The following sub-sections explain the law by describing sex education-related actions that are mandated (what school districts must do) and prohibited (what school districts must NOT do).
SCHOOL DISTRICT MUST TAKE THESE ACTIONS TO COMPLY WITH MISSISSIPPI’S SEX ED LAW.
- Adopt a sex education policy– Each school district is required to adopt a written sex education policy—either an abstinence-only or abstinence-plus policy—by June 30, 2012.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: In CHART school districts, this requirement is satisfied by school board adoption of the CHART policy, an abstinence-plus policy.
- Select a curriculum from a list approved by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE)– School districts must choose a curriculum from a list approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. Materials or activities (including videos, guest speakers, rallies, or brochures, and handouts) which have not been approved by the Mississippi Department of Education as part of a written curriculum will not meet the school district’s compliance burden under state law, even if the materials or activities do not directly contradict the law. The Office of Healthy Schools within MDE is responsible for maintaining the list of approved abstinence-only and abstinence-plus curricula.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: Every CHART curricula (Draw the Line/Respect the Line and Reducing the Risk) has been approved by MDE and satisfies this requirement.
- Provide parents the ability to opt-in-Parents must affirmatively sign a permission form in order for their child to participate.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: Every CHART district must distribute a permission form to parents as part of both state law and CHART policy.
- Provide parents the right to review sex education curriculum prior to instruction– The law grants parents the right to review written curriculum materials at least one week prior to the beginning of instruction.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: Every CHART district must inform parents of their right to review curriculum materials before instruction begins. CHART provides guidance for school districts on how to implement this requirement of state law and CHART policy. Visit our Requirements page for more information on tips and best practices for this implementing the parental notice requirement of state law.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS MUST NOT VIOLATE THE FOLLOWING PROHIBITIONS IN ORDER TO COMPLY WITH MISSISSIPPI’S SEX EDUCATION LAW.
- NO condom demonstrations– State law very specifically prohibits condom demonstrations in a sex education class in public schools. The law states, “In no case shall the instruction or program include any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied.” Based on curriculum approval decisions, the Mississippi Department of Education has interpreted this language to mean that schools may not demonstrate to students how to correctly apply a condom nor may schools show a video of someone applying a condom. However, discussions of condom ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’—such as using a new condom in each sexual encounter and not using expired condoms—are allowed.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: This prohibition was a key consideration during MDE’s curriculum review process. Therefore, every CHART curriculum, since it has been approved by MDE, satisfies this requirement. CHART districts do not need to worry about interpreting this prohibition and its dimensions on their own.
- NO instruction on abortion as a means to prevent the birth of a baby– Schools are prohibited from teaching students that abortion may be used as a means to prevent the birth of a baby.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: Every CHART curriculum, since it has been approved by MDE, satisfies this requirement. Therefore, CHART districts do not need to worry about interpreting this prohibition and its dimensions on their own.
- NO co-ed classes– School districts are not permitted to teach sex education in co-ed classes (classes with both boys and girls). Therefore, in addition to having an alternative placement for children whose parents declined to sign the permission form, schools must have at least two sex education classes: one for boys and one for girls. In total, this means that school districts must accommodate three groups of children: 1) boys who have opted-in, 2) girls who have opted-in, and 3) children who have not opted-in.
✔ MEETING THE REQUIREMENT: CHART districts should consult the “Best Practices” chapter of the CHART Implementation Guide for assistance in scheduling sex education to meet this requirement.