March 7, 2011
Under a bill passed Thursday by the state Senate, Mississippi's 152 school districts would have to declare by July 1, 2012, whether they take an abstinence-only or abstinence-plus approach to sex education.
The Senate amended the House-passed version, adding a provision stating that while contraceptives could be discussed, their use could not be demonstrated. Lessons mentioning contraceptives would have to include their risks and failure rates. The Senate also changed the inclusion criteria for sex education classes from "opt-out" to "opt-in," meaning parental permission would be required for participation.
"I would be irate if my kids came home and said they were given a banana and a condom and shown how to use it," said Sen. Lee Yancey (R-Brandon), who presented the amended bill in the Senate.
Both versions of the legislation require that students be segregated by gender in sex education lessons. HB 999 now is likely headed to a House-Senate conference committee. A similar measure failed last year when the two chambers could not reach agreement.