This series was Co-Produced by Freelance Reporter Andy Kopsa.
School is about to start, and for the second year school districts throughout the state will be required to offer Sex Ed classes.
Over the next four days we'll hear in-depth conversations with state leaders, health advocates and others on what your kids are being taught about sex and why. Today, freelance reporter Kopsa talks to us about her research, why she chose Mississippi, and the legislation that became our state's Sex Ed law - House Bill 999. That law says every school district in the state must choose either an abstinence-only curriculum, or abstinence-plus.
House Bill 999, is the bill adopted to implement sex education in Mississippi schools. This series will explore the intersection of race, religion and policy in the discussion about this controversial topic in Mississippi.
Mississippi allocated more money to abstinence-only programs than to abstinence-plus. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services' federal grant-tracking search engine (TAGGS), Mississippi received $739,000 through the Affordable Care Act ACA to implement abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in public schools. The grant guidelines stipulate Mississippi must match the federal funds with state funds at a rate of $3 state dollars to every federal $1. This translates into Mississippians spending around $554,000 in 2012 to teach abstinence-only programs that have not been proven effective. And with the addition of the matching funds, abstinence-only in Mississippi stands to gain over $1.2 million in public support.
By comparison, Mississippi only received around $520,000 PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program) funds to implement comprehensive sex-ed. And unlike Title V ab-only grants, the PREP guidelines do not require any state matching funds.
It will be some time before Mississippi is able to gather data from this first year of HB 999 implementation. However, existing studies on sexual education suggest that abstinence-plus, even with its diminished capacity, will ultimately prove more effective in reducing teen pregnancy and disease transmission than abstinence-only.
This series was funded by a grant from the Knight Program in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California.