Report: Sex Education in Indiana Lacking
March 31, 2006
A recent online survey by Indiana University found that many sex education teachers addressed HIV/AIDS in class but were not clear on what to teach about abstinence. HIV/AIDS education and abstinence are required topics under state curricula guidelines. The survey, commissioned by Get Real, Indiana! a coalition advocating comprehensive sex education, included data from about 400 high school and middle school teachers, counselors, and 175 sex education teachers.
Among teachers with sex education responsibilities, about 46 percent reported thoroughly discussing HIV/AIDS, and 35 percent discussed pregnancy, said Michael Reece, a university researcher who supervised the survey. But about abstinence, Reece said, "Teachers in Indiana are really confused about what they can teach and how they can teach it."
"Young people and teenagers are not getting critical information they need to make healthy decisions," said Kathleen Baldwin, vice president of education and training for Planned Parenthood of Indiana, a Get Real, Indiana! member.
Indiana's Department of Education sets standards for health classes, and state law is clear with respect to HIV/AIDS and abstinence education, said Mary Tiede Wilhelmus, a DOE spokesperson. "I have no reason to believe, and I certainly haven't heard from teachers, that they've had trouble understanding that information."
All school boards are required to consult AIDS advisory boards about the curriculum; however, decisions about what content is taught, and how, are made locally.
Sex education teachers are required to tell students that the expected standard is to abstain from sex until marriage, said Eric Miller of the conservative group Advance America. "What we need to do is make sure Indiana law is being followed."
There is more information about sex than ever, but still youths contract STDs and become pregnant, said Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. "I think that sex education needs to be in the context of values."
03.27.2006; Deanna Martin
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.