While the debate over the Florida school system’s curriculum regarding origins has been a hot topic recently, a new subject of debate is now entering the fray.
Abstinence-only education has been backed by both the federal government and the Bush administration, and has been pushed upon America’s youth despite various studies and reports made by doctors and universities that it is not commonsense education.
Florida is one state that has received federal funding for abstinence-only programs, and the statistics reveal that they have not been as effective as those who support them have hoped.
The time has come for a uniform, educated stance to be taken within the school system.
According to Tampabay.com, a bill has been introduced to change the health education in the state.
The bill, titled Healthy Teens Act, seeks to unify the curriculum taught to teens in the system. Introduced by state Sen. Ted Deutch, the Healthy Teens Act was written with the hope that the changes would begin on July 1, but will most likely meet resistance from those who support abstinence-only education.
Health studies in the state of Florida need to be reformed, not just for the education of the students, but for their safety. As people once needed to accept that the world was no longer flat, they now need to accept that AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are serious problems that could largely be eliminated by awareness and thorough education.
The bill supports itself with staggering statistics. It states that 75-90 percent of teen pregnancies are unwanted, and more than half of 19 million new cases of STD infection in the United States in 2005 – the most recent year for which statistics were available – were contracted by people ages 15-24. Florida has the sixth-highest rate of teen pregnancy and the second-highest rate of AIDS in the country.
While the bill clearly makes a bold argument by mentioning the financial impact made by disease and unwanted pregnancy, it is also written with compromise in mind. It states that it will focus on ensuring that the health education delivered is age-appropriate and it also mentions that it will teach students that “abstinence is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy or sexual transmitted disease.”
It’s time for the state to leave abstinence-only education behind. The Healthy Teens Act is the perfect start for effective health education, even if it’s coming a few generations too late.