First Darwin, now condoms
As if debating evolution wasn't culture-war enough, two South Florida lawmakers are announcing bills today that would require more comprehensive sex education in Florida schools. Translation: Teaching abstinence isn't enough. Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, D-Miami, say the Healthy Teens Act is a "common sense bill" that would give teens info about abstinence - and about ways to protect themselves from disease and pregnancy.
If a recent debate in St. Lucie County is any indication, this could get real ugly, real fast. When board members there were considering whether to adopt a more comprehensive curriculum called Get Real About AIDS - which teaches students about condoms - a local pastor threatened to post fliers with their faces next to descriptions of sex acts. One board member found her face on a flier that included her address, the type of car she drives and a request that people pray for her. Meanwhile, critics pushed to fire the superintendent (see story here.)
Deutch's bill notes that Florida has the sixth-highest teen-pregnancy rate in the country, and the second-highest rate of AIDS cases. University of Florida researchers also noted some dire stats in November, when they released a study that found sex ed programs in Florida vary widely in content. Deutch's bill says beginning in sixth grade, Florida schools will offer information that "emphasizes the value of abstinence while not ignoring those adolescents who have had sexual intercourse and who thereafter may or may not remain sexually active."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter