Expand comprehensive sex education in Louisiana schools
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Louisiana consistently ranks among the top five states with the highest number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the nation. Louisiana is currently ranked #2 for chlamydia incidence (new cases), #1 for syphilis incidence, and #1 for gonorrhea incidence, with teenagers accounting for many of the individuals impacted. New Orleans and Baton Rouge both rank in the top ten cities for new HIV infections, with youth accounting for 27% of those impacted. In Louisiana, youth HIV rates are higher than the national average. While national rates of teen pregnancy have been decreasing over the last twenty years, they have stayed more stable in Louisiana than in the rest of the country.
Research has shown that abstinence-only programs are ineffective. They are shown to have no impact on reducing teen pregnancy, delaying sexual initiation, or reducing STIs, yet Louisiana continues to promote abstinence-only education. Furthermore, Louisiana sex education provides limited to no discussion of contraception and often misrepresents their effectiveness as it is not required by law to be medically accurate. As a result, young people who have chosen to have sex are often shamed, while LGBTQ youth are typically left out of the discussion entirely. Young people across Louisiana are under-informed and/or misinformed about their health and their bodies.
States and communities that take a stand and require comprehensive sex education have lower rates of STIs and teen pregnancy. The sex education provided to most youth in Louisiana is unacceptable, and the youth are suffering as a result. To change this we must reevaluate the current law we have regarding sex education and revise them to be more informative and rooted in research and evidence so that we can protect our youth.
With this knowledge and information in mind, we urge lawmakers in Louisiana to support comprehensive sex education in our schools and to promote laws that will make it more widespread.
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