Utah Schools Rank Last for Lessons on Condoms
April 16, 2012
In 2010, only 11.3 percent of Utah's public secondary schools taught teens about the efficacy of condoms, how to obtain them, and the importance consistent and proper use -- the lowest percentage out of 45 states surveyed by CDC.
Utah law permits schools to teach about contraception, but bars advocating its use. Schools districts may choose abstinence-only or abstinence-based curriculum, and students must have their parents' consent to participate. Gov. Gary Herbert recently vetoed a bill that would have let school districts drop sex education completely, banning contraceptive instruction for those that retained it.
Karrie Galloway, CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, noted that "teens are making their own decisions" on the issues while adults continue fighting. A Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report found that, in 2009, 46 percent of US teens reported having had sex. Utah, however, does not survey teens on sexual activity.
Galloway referred to the condom education statistics as "abysmal." "Take the morality out of it," she continued. "Focus on it as a public health issue and say, Do we want our kids this ignorant?'" The Utah Department of Health reported the highest rates of chlamydia in 2010 were among girls ages 15 to 19.
Dalane England, vice president for issues with the Utah Eagle Forum, disagrees. "When you talk about abstinence-only ... you get more abstinence."
Brigham Young University Assistant Professor Cougar Hall, who trains health teachers, was most surprised that 12.4 percent of surveyed schools reported teaching teens how to access condoms. To avoid violating state law, he said he would advise teachers not to tell students where to get condoms, even though he personally feels schools should advocate for correct and consistent condom use.
Salt Lake Tribune
04.11.2012; Lisa Schencker
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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