(Miami) – In an effort to learn more about the availability of health information in Miami-Dade County schools, the Healthy Teens Campaign conducted an in-depth survey assessing the inclusion and content of sex education in Miami-Dade County’s public and charter schools. The survey found that the majority of schools were either nonresponsive or did not know which school personnel is responsible for instruction nor what curriculum is being used, demonstrating a need for greater public access to curriculum information and standards for sex education in Miami-Dade Schools.
“We cannot continue to deny Florida teens the education and information that is necessary for them to make healthy and safe decisions as they grow older,” said Lillian A. Tamayo, Healthy Teens Campaign member and President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. “It is critical that the Legislature pass the Healthy Teens Act to ensure comprehensive sex education is provided in Florida’s schools.”
Only 56% of schools who completed the survey reported teaching a comprehensive sex education curriculum, leaving 44% reporting that they provide abstinence-only programs. The overwhelming majority of schools teaching abstinence-only programs reported regularly inviting guest lecturers and outside organizations to speak to students, yet half were unable to specify the names of the speakers or affiliated organizations. A 2009 SIECUS study found that abstinence-only programs frequently distribute self published, outdated, and medically-inaccurate educational materials – an approach that potentially misinforms teens, risking their health and safety.
The majority of educators surveyed indicated that they are willing to help develop the sex education curriculum at their school. What’s more, a recent study found that more than 84% of registered voters in Miami, Tampa and the Panhandle regions say that it is important to teach comprehensive sex education in public schools.
“Florida has the sixth highest teen pregnancy rate and the second highest AIDS case rate in the country,” continued Tamayo. “This is a public health crisis that elected officials have an opportunity to address by passing the Healthy Teens Act.”
The Healthy Teens Act (SB 220 by Sen. Deutch (D-30) and HB 265 by Rep. Fitzgerald (D-69)) requires Florida public schools that already teach information about sexually transmitted infections, family planning, and pregnancy to provide medically-accurate and comprehensive sex education – including facts about abstinence and methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and the spread of diseases.
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. www.ppsoflo.org
The Healthy Teens Campaign is a coalition of over 87 public health, faith-based, education, medical, and social justice organizations working together to advocate for comprehensive sex education in Florida public schools to improve the health and safety of Florida teens.