Advocating for comprehensive sex education for public schools in Mississippi.
Teen Health Mississippi's mission is to empower youth to advocate for the right to accurate and complete comprehensive sex education in Mississippi public schools and increase access to sexual and reproductive health services for all young people.
Efforts to raise awareness
Teen Health Mississippi increases awareness among young people about the state sex ed law and engage them in Teen Health Mississippi's advocacy efforts.
Teen Health Mississippi advocates by focusing its efforts on the following:
- House Meetings
- Advocacy and lobbying training
- Media and social media outreach
- Engaging state legislators
All of Teen Health Mississippi’s work is conducted in partnership with youth and falls within three primary domains:
- Policy and Advocacy. Engaging youth advocates and community stakeholders to increase awareness of important policies relating to teen sexual health and champion policies at state, local and organizational levels that improve teen sexual health.
- Training and Capacity Building. Providing training and resources to build the capacity of youth-serving adults and organizations to effectively implement strategies, programs and services that are guided by research and key positive youth development practices.
- Programs and Initiatives. Supporting the implementation of programs and strategies that are informed by research and best practices that target risk and protective factors that influence teen sexual health.
Mississippi Teen Health statistics
Teen sexual health data has several indicators when it comes to sexual health. The following trends reflect data captured in 2014:
- Teen birth rates (per 1,000 females age 15-19) are the 3rd highest rate in the nation; accounting for a 26.5 percent of the U.S. average.
- Chlamydia infection rates (per 100,000 residents) are the 2nd highest rate in the nation; accounting for 444.6 percent of the U.S. average.
- Gonorrhea infection rates (per 1000,000 residents) are the 2nd highest in the nation; accounting for 106.1 percent of the U.S. average.
Mississippi high school student's sexual behaviors pose higher percentages in comparison to the U.S. average. Percentages collected from the Mississippi high school students also indicate that they are having higher sexual encounters and did not choose to use a condom during their last sexual intercourse, further supporting the need for comprehensive sex education in schools.
The current state of sexual education in Mississippi schools
House Bill 999 is Mississippi's current sex education law that was passed in March 2011. HB 999 mandates that sex education in Mississippi public schools and its school districts must: Adopt a sexuality education policy by June 2002. The HB also mandates that Mississippi public schools systems must decide to adopt and implement either an “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus” policy. The Mississippi Department of Education will adopt and implement a corresponding curriculum of their approval.
Though it’s good that sex education is required in Mississippi’s schools, the state’s current sex education law is not meeting the needs of young people because it’s too biased towards abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. There are ways to make the law better to ensure young people in Mississippi are provided the information and resources needed to make more informed and health-enhancing decisions throughout their lives.
For more information on Mississippi Youth Council, visit them here: teenhealthms.org