Sex education has the power to change a young person’s life for the better, but teaching it can be a daunting and loaded responsibility for educators. If you’re new to teaching sex education or thinking about adding it to your class schedule, there are lots of resources and trainings to lean on as you get comfortable in your role.
If you’re not familiar with Mississippi’s sex education law, school districts are required to adopt and implement either a “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus” sex education policy, along with curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education.
The Importance of Comprehensive Sex Education
We know the impact that comprehensive sex education can have on a young person’s life, and the data backs us up. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, 48% of Mississippi high school students say they’ve had sex, and of those, 44.2% didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex.
As educators, you can help to turn the tide for students in Mississippi by giving them the knowledge they need to make decisions for themselves. Teen Health Mississippi signed SIECUS’ Sex Ed for All Month: Call to Action to put our organization and work behind a statement of youth power, information and rights, and a call for change.
“It’s past time to stand with all young people, empowering them with education on the full range of topics they need to achieve positive outcomes for themselves.” — Sex Ed for All Month: Call to Action
Resources for Teaching Sex Education
While it may feel like it at times, you’re not teaching on an island. For all those interested in joining our mission to ensure that all young people in Mississippi have access to high-quality sex education, there are resources, trainings, and support to help you and your students succeed.
Teen Health Mississippi offers one- or multi-day trainings for youth-serving adults or organizations teaching sex education to teens and young adults.
- The Foundations: Core Skills for Training for Sex Ed training covers essential skills for teaching sex education, including sex education policies, classroom climate, facilitation techniques and tips, and handling difficult questions and comments.
- Custom Sex Ed trainings provide trainings specific to your organization, school, or clinic, including trainings in Draw the Line/Respect the Line, Reducing the Risk, and Making Proud Choices.
Teen Health Mississippi also has training options for those interested in becoming an Askable Adult, equipped to talk with students about sex, body image, and positive relationships, LGBTQ issues, and working with expectant and parenting youth.
We partnered with Answer, a national sex education organization through Rutgers University, to provide free online workshops for sex education instructors participating in our CHART initiative. The workshops are designed to increase your baseline knowledge of youth sexual health issues, as well as your comfort and preparedness in teaching sex education.
Online workshop topics include:
- STD Basics
- Sexuality ABCs
- LGBTQ Issues in Schools
- Boys & Sex Ed
- Relationship Skills for Teens
- Sexual Anatomy and Response
- Puberty and Adolescent Development: Growing Pains and Gains
- Personal Safety: Knowing Signs and Drawing Lines
Teen Health Mississippi offers a range of webinars covering topics such as making a referral for health services to a student or sharing information about accessing youth-friendly healthcare. All 10 webinars are free to watch and learn.
For even more, check out our resources for teachers, which include curriculum, implementation guides, recommended reading, and more. In addition, the Professional Learning Standards for Sex Education from SIECUS offers helpful guidelines for creating an open and accepting learning environment to address sexuality. And the Sex Education Collaborative offers some great trainings and support for educators.
While it’s not an easy subject to teach and policies and social stigmas often make it more complicated, sex education enables young people to make decisions about their health and lifestyles that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Knowledge is empowering, and the knowledge that you’re giving is life-changing.
What questions or concerns do you have about teaching sex education in Mississippi? Are there other resources that would be helpful for you or your students? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you know a young person who’s also passionate about comprehensive sex education, let them know about our youth activists on MYCouncil.