Americans aged 20-24 make up the largest number of sexually transmitted disease diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, young adults and adolescents in Louisiana lead the nation in syphilis rates, with HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea falling closely behind.
Some people think the state’s sex education policies need to change to combat this trend. I agree and think this trend is unfortunate and, frankly, unnecessary.
The majority of state lawmakers have killed legislation to modify sex education for years. However, three out of every four parents in Louisiana are in favor of requiring public schools to teach sex education.
Let me break that down: Louisiana public schools are not required to provide sex education instruction, although approximately 75 percent of parents believe they should be.
But the majority of Louisiana senators would rather point and scream at the thought of the CDC surveying kids’ sexual activity, calling it an “assault on innocence.”
Here’s yet another instance of elected officials ignoring their constituents when statistics clearly show their desires.
Last May, weekly New Orleans newspaper Gambit spoke with several state lawmakers both in favor and opposed to providing comprehensive sex education – that is, instruction that includes medically accurate information about ways to reduce unplanned pregnancies and risk of STDs while emphasizing abstinence as the best method.
Those who are affiliated with Northwestern State University will likely find one familiar name in the Gambit article: Sen. Gerald Long, NSU class of 1966.
He claims Louisiana’s almost-nation-leading STD rates and pregnancy rates that trail close behind reflect a “social and moral and spiritual problem.” Further, he doubts students are likely to be truthful if state legislators allowed the CDC to survey them anonymously about their sexual activity.
If you would be so kind as to enlighten us, Long: What is this social, moral and spiritual problem you speak of? Is there a problem unique to Louisiana and the entire southeastern region – i.e., Bible Belt – that can explain why its STD rates are significantly higher than the rest of the nation?
Yes, there is a problem. It is the lack of information provided by qualified educators in controlled environments.
Legislation regarding sex education has not been modified in 25 years; this state is long overdue for an update that reflects its citizens’ desires. Requiring schools to teach sex education, even if we have to compromise and continue with abstinence-only programs, can be the first step toward a healthier public.
Long, I hope you and other legislators who voted to opt out of the CDC’s survey quit dragging your asses and get out of the comfortable state of ignorance you embrace.