Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mississippi Funds Abstinence Summit

As part of the $16 million of state funding dedicated to abstinence-only sex education, the Mississippi Department of Human Services recently sponsored a summit on abstinence that resembled a pep rally. At this summit, Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat”, a song laced with sexual innuendos, was played, a middle school cheerleading squad promoted abstaining from sex through cheers, and a local reverend led prayers. In turn, the main speaker failed to discuss methods of birth control, commented that “[a] pregnant woman will rip the skin off your arm,” and mocked teenage girls calling his house in the early hours of the morning for his wife, a pregnancy crisis counselor.

The insufficiency of abstinence-only education can be seen clearly: Mississippi had the highest teen birth rate in the nation in 2009 and consistently ranks in the top five for rates of STI transmission. It is unacceptable that state funded programs like this are intentionally and unapologetically withholding potentially life saving measures from young people in an effort to further a religious agenda.

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