UPDATE April 2021: HB 633 has passed the Mississippi House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves.
During this session, the Mississippi Legislature has decided to renew the state’s sex education legislation (HB 999), a law that has been in effect for the last 10 years. HB 999 (also called HB 494) requires public school districts to adopt and implement a sex education policy (either “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus”).
Extensive research confirms that abstinence-only methods have no impact on the sexual behavior of youth. Teen Health Mississippi believes Mississippi youth deserve more than HB 999. As such, we do not support the law’s renewal under HB 633.
Fighting for Mississippi Youth
Mississippi youth, we hear you, we see you, and we will continue to fight alongside you for access to the information you need for your life and health.
For many Mississippi youth, access to age-appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based, and accessible sex education is a matter of life and health.
Updating Sex Education Curricula
For the last 6 years, young people’s calls for legislators to improve the current sex education law have gone unheard. Youth have advocated for lawmakers to update the approved list of sex education curricula for schools—a measure that would ensure youth have the most effective and up-to-date information about their health. Mississippi’s list of sex education curricula options has not been updated in 10 years!
Mississippi youth have advocated for curricula that remove stigmatizing language and include information on topics such as consent, intimate partner violence, a range of contraceptive methods, healthy relationships, and gender identity. Young people want sex education information to include topics such as cyberbullying, the benefits of delaying sexual intercourse, and normal reproductive development.
Addressing Youth Health Needs
For the last 10 years, THMS and our partners have fought alongside Mississippi youth to advocate for sex education that is medically accurate, evidence-based, age-appropriate, and more accessible to youth. We have met with legislators and hosted capitol days so Mississippi youth could speak directly with legislators about their needs concerning their health and education.
During these conversations, youth have shared alarming statistics regarding unintended pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections. Mississippi is still 3rd in the nation for teen birth rates. Mississippi is 3rd in the nation for gonorrhea and syphilis infection rates. Jackson is 4th in the nation for new HIV infections. And CDC data shows that youth make up half of all new sexually transmitted disease cases every year.
Mississippi youth, you deserve more than HB 999. We will continue to work alongside Mississippi youth and with statewide partners to ensure a more inclusive, comprehensive law, which will increase access to high-quality sex education—an essential right for all young people.
Join THMS, our partners, and Mississippi youth as we continue to work to improve sex education in Mississippi by signing our petition in support of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education in public schools.
Featured image by NeONBRAND via Unsplash.com