The Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) Office of Healthy Schools has released an updated list of approved sex education curricula. House Bill 999, which required public schools to adopt an abstinence-only or abstinence-plus policy and curriculum by June 30 of last year, also requires all curricula to be approved by MDE. The list now includes 9 ab-only options and 7 ab-plus options.

“It’s Both.”

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, vague language in HB999 created a lot of confusion about what was or wasn’t allowed to be taught in the two policy options. The language was especially confusing about instruction about condoms and what actually constitutes a “condom demonstration.” The Mississippi Department of Education has interpreted the confusing language in the legislation to allow abstinence curricula to be approved on both lists, even without any differences in the “only” or “plus” versions. MDE asked curriculum vendors to choose whether their curricula would be evaluated as “abstinence-only,” “abstinence-plus,” or both. At this time, 5 of the 7 “abstinence-plus” curricula have also been approved for “abstinence-only.”

HHS-approved Abstinence-only Options

Three of the nine ab-only options [Heritage Keepers, Making a Difference, and Promoting Health Among Teens (PHAT)], are on the list of “Evidence-Based Programs” recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Each program on the list had to produce peer reviewed evidence of effectiveness in reducing teen birth or pregnancy rates, reducing sexually-transmitted infection rates, or reducing sexual risk behaviors (sexual activity, # of partners, unprotected sex).

States that have received Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grants can use the funds to purchase any program on the HHS list. However, because Mississippi’s PREP-funded initiative is tied to an abstinence-plus policy, the new HHS-approved ab-only options will not be included in CHART.

Still Only Two Options for CHART

Before MDE released their updated list of curricula, MSDH had already decided not to submit any new curriculum options at this time. This decisions was made for three reasons. First, focusing on one middle school and one high school option allows for a strong focus on implementation, along with a more rigorous evaluation in the coming years. Secondly, the HHS-approved options that have been added to MDE’s list do not satisfy our dual-focus of delaying the start of sex among non-sexually active teens, while also promoting risk-reducing behavior (fewer partners, correct and consistent condom use) for teens that are or may become sexually active. Finally, additional curricula that were recommended for CHART are unlikely to be approved by MDE without compromising their effectiveness.

The Updated List – April, 2013

Abstinence-Only
Abstinence & Marriage Programs (both lists)
Choosing the Best (both lists)
Great Body Shop (both lists)
HealthTeacher.com (both lists)
Heritage Keepers – on HHS list
Making a Difference – on HHS list
Promoting Health Among Teens (Ab-Only version) – on HHS List
WAIT Training (both lists)

Abstinence-Plus
Draw the Line/Respect the Line, CHART program
Reducing the Risk, CHART program
Abstinence & Marriage Programs (both lists)
Choosing the Best (both lists)
Great Body Shop (both lists)
HealthTeacher.com (both lists)
WAIT Training (both lists)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *