Many Georgia school districts tell students: No sex until marriage

No sex until marriage. That’s the message in many Georgia school districts, where sex education is abstinence based. Despite hundreds of student requests for science-based programs and several parent-led initiatives for curriculum change, abstinence-based programs still dominate the state’s schools.

Georgia does not have a single sex ed curriculum. Instead, schools choose yearly if they want to use a comprehensive sex ed program, an abstinence-only program, or no sex education at all.

More than one-third of the state’s 450 high schools use a curriculum called Choosing the Best, in which “the best” is considered sexual abstinence.

The program “encourages sexually active students to make a choice to stop having sex from this point forward, as the best and healthiest choice for their future,” according to the Choosing the Best website.

The website cites a 2010 study that found students who participated in the program were 1.5 times more likely to delay the onset of sex at the end of the ninth grade. That difference, however, was not sustained by the 10th grade, the study states.

“The data don’t show that it works,” said Andrea Swartzendruber, professor of Public Health at the University of Georgia. “In fact, it does not delay sexual initiation. It does not reduce risk behavior. A handful of studies have actually showed harm.”

She said said Choosing the Best, written by Georgia resident and outspoken supporter of abstinence-only education Bruce Cook, promotes abstinence by misleading students about the effectiveness of different forms of birth control.

Attempts to contact Choosing the Best were unsuccessful.

Gwinnett County schools, the state’s largest school system, uses Choosing the Best.

Jaime Winfree leads a coalition of parents who are trying to change the curriculum there. One student described to her an activity that included having the students suck on a hard candy and then spit it out. The used candies were compared to a woman who has had sex and was therefore considered “dirty,” Winfree said.

Read the full story at The Telegraph

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