Sexual Health Education
LOUISIANA ADOLESCENT SEXUAL HEALTH FACTS
- Teen Pregnancy Rate: #47 worst out of 50 states
- Teen Birth Rate in 2014: #44 worst out of 50
- Both teen pregnancies and teen births have declined in recent years, likely a result of increased use of contraception.
- In 2010, the public cost of teen childbearing in Louisiana was $152 million
Louisiana also has some of the highest rates of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents in the U.S.
Sexual Health Education Law in Louisiana
In 1991, a Louisiana statute set out to establish an adolescent school health initiative to facilitate and encourage development of comprehensive health centers in public middle and secondary schools in Louisiana to provide preventive health services, counseling, acute health services, and appropriate referral. (RS 40:31.3)
The statute prohibited school health centers from:
- Counseling or advocating abortion in any way or referring any student to any organization for counseling or advocating abortion.
- Distributing at any public school any contraceptive or abortifacient drug, device, or other similar product.
A year later, a law passed requiring the secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals to establish a program to provide information to public assistance recipients regarding family planning, including information regarding abstinence, but excluding abortion. (RS 46:447.1)
In 1993, the Louisiana legislature passed a law establishing rules for providing instruction in sex education.
According to the statute (RS 17:281):
…any public elementary or secondary school in Louisiana may, but is not required to, offer instruction in subject matter designated as “sex education”, provided such instruction and subject matter is integrated into an existing course of study such as biology, science, physical hygiene, or physical education. Instruction may include the study of sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, childbirth, puberty, menstruation, and menopause, as well as the dissemination of factual information about parental responsibilities.
The legislature established through this law that “sex education” shall not include religious beliefs, practices in human sexuality, nor the subjective moral and ethical judgments of the instructor or other persons.
The law also prohibits:
- testing, quizzing, or surveying students about their personal or family beliefs or practices in sex, morality, or religion;
- distributing any contraceptive or abortifacient drug, device, or other similar product at any public school;
- using any sexually explicit materials depicting male or female homosexual activity; and
- offering sex education instruction that in any way counsels or advocates abortion.
The statute encourages instruction that emphasizes abstinence.
The major emphasis of any sex education instruction offered in the public schools of this state shall be to encourage sexual abstinence between unmarried persons and any such instruction shall:
- Emphasize abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children.
- Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is a way to avoid unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and other associated health problems.
- Emphasize that each student has the power to control personal behavior and to encourage students to base action on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.
Parents or guardians have the option to excuse any child from receiving instruction in sex education.