Most of Teen Health Mississippi’s policy work has been surrounding Mississippi’s sex education law. With the passage of House Bill 999 in 2011, public school districts are required to adopt and implement a sex education policy—either “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus”—and a sex education curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education.
About Mississippi Sex Education Law
The 2011 Mississippi’s Sex Education Law (Miss. Code Ann. Section 37-13-171) mandated for the first time that public school districts adopt a sex education policy. The law also contains implementation requirements all school districts must follow, such as separation of girls and boys for sex education classes, parents having to opt-in their child for sex education classes, and not allowing physical demonstrations on how to apply contraceptives, including condoms.
The law included a repealer for July 1, 2016, meaning that this law would no longer exist after that time. However, during the 2016 legislative session, the Mississippi Legislature voted to extend this law for five more years until July 1, 2021 (House Bill 494).
Why the CHART Initiative?
Unfortunately, the bill did not provide additional funding to school districts to carry out its mandate. Thanks to nonprofit and government partners, federal funding that allows districts to implement the Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens (CHART) initiative at no cost was secured.
CHART complies with the the law on sex education in Mississippi, and training and technical assistance are provided to ensure that each CHART district remains in compliance. Review the requirements specific to the CHART initiative and learn how to become a CHART District.
Getting Youth Involved
Since 2015, Mississippi Youth Council (MYCouncil) has worked to educate legislators about needed changes to the Mississippi sex education law. In that time, MYCouncil members have had over 100 meetings with state legislators. They have also written 3 sex education bills, which were sponsored by a state legislator during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 legislative sessions.
“When you look at legislation, there are so many people who could tell stories about the impact of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases having on their neighborhoods and on their communities. And these are folks who’ve become real advocates for better sex ed and better health policies.” —Sanford Johnson, Advisory Board Member