West Palm Beach – For today’s teens, it can be a dangerous world. Popular culture can give them the wrong facts and influences. And not all families have open, healthy communication about sex. Not knowing the facts about sex not only puts them at risk of pregnancy, but also diseases that threaten their health, and puts their education and futures at risk. World AIDS Day (December 1, 2008) is an opportunity for parents and teachers to have a conversation with teens that can save their lives.
"Parents and teachers, working together, know best how to teach the difficult subjects of sex and life skills," said Lillian A. Tamayo President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. "But too many schools cater to a narrow minority by allowing abstinence-only programs to censor teachers and exclude parents’ input. This is dangerous given the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in our community."
The time to act is now so Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast is working with other coalition members involved in the Healthy Teens Campaign to educate legislators about the need for comprehensive sex education in our schools. Together we are advocating for passage of the Healthy Teens Act which will protect Florida’s teens by requiring that public schools receiving state funding provide comprehensive, medically-accurate, and age-appropriate factual information when teaching about HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, family planning, or pregnancy.
Florida currently has NO statewide standards for teaching sex education, which means many school districts only provide information about abstinence. This leaves children unprepared to make life-altering decisions. Comprehensive sex education teaches that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; encourages family communication about sexuality; and provides life saving information about other prevention methods.
Passage of the Healthy Teens Act would create statewide standards so all teens can learn the facts from trusted, responsible sources. Unfortunately Florida currently receives the second largest amount of abstinence-only funding, yet has the second highest AIDS case rate in the country.
"While we all hope that teens will wait to have sex, half of Florida teens have intercourse before they graduate high school," said Tamayo. "We need comprehensive sex education so even if a teen chooses not to wait they’ll still know how to be safe."
For more information about Planned Parenthood or where to get tested for HIV please visit www.ppsoflo.org or call 800-230-PLAN. During the month of December, Planned Parenthood will be providing HIV testing at a reduced rate in honor of World AIDS Day. To learn more about the Healthy Teens Act please visit www.HealthyTeensFlorida.org.
The mission of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and Treasure Coast, Inc. is to provide comprehensive sexual health care through the provision of clinical services, education and advocacy. We do so by understanding and responding to the needs of those seeking our services, and by protecting and respecting the essential privacy rights, dignity and culture of each individual.
Director of Communications
November 18, 2008