Republicans and Democrats sound off on sexual education standards in Missouri
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Republicans and Democrats sound off on sexual education standards in Missouri

Date: October 10, 2008
By: Brenda Martens
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: Governor Sarah Palin's stance on abstinence only programs renewed education debates in Missouri.

Brenda Martens has more from the State Capitol.

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Abstinence only or comprehensive sex education programs. It's a question that came up during this election season. 

Educators, politicians, and professionals have also been asking it in recent years. 

Abstinence only means saying no to sex whereas comprehensive sex ed programs give information on different kinds of contraceptives along with teaching about abstinence.

Missouri Department of Education Consultant Steve Williams says local control statutes in Missouri allow each district to decide which method to teach.

Actuality:  WILLIAM3.WAV
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Description: "But we do know that there are schools that do abstinence only education in our schools, but I would say that, anecdotally, without statistics, that the majority of our schools teach comprehensive sex education."

Williams says specific statistics do not exist because local control does not allow school curricula to be tracked.

Even though it can't be tracked, Democratic Senator Jeff Smith says he hopes more schools will teach comprehensive sex ed programs.

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Description: "You know, more than half of all teenagers in this country are having sex. And to be like ostriches and just bury our heads in the sand, doesn't serve, you know, doesn't serve, I think, anyone's cause."

But Republican Senator Chuck Purgason disagrees with Smith.

While Purgason is in favor of abstinence only programs, he says parents should make the final decision for their children's schools.

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Description: "And I think that getting parents involved and running things through parents on what they want their schools to teach should be the main issue."

Much like public schools, homeschool instructors decide individually whether to teach abstinence only or comprehensive sex education.

Jefferson City Home Educators President Mavis Dey agrees with Purgason's stance on sex ed. 

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Description: "I know a lot of parents who are currently homeschooling are uncomfortable with the idea of somebody else teaching their children about morality and sex education."

Abstinence may sound good to some parents and school administrators, but Planned Parenthood spokesperson Erika Titus says sex ed programs that present every angle are needed in schools.

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Description: "If we have abstinence only education being pushed, we're going to continue to see that abstinence only education is failing. It's failing our country. It's failing our young people. And, unfortunately, teen pregnancy statistics are going to continue to rise." 
 

Titus and Smith say abstinence should be taught to students, but they don't believe it's the only method that should be taught.

Both say numerous studies on sex education in schools have shown that abstinence only programs do not work.

Although they disagree in arguing which is the preferred sex education method, Smith and Purgason both agree that high school students are old enough to make decisions for themselves.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Brenda Martens.

 


Intro: Governor Palin's stance on abstinence only education renewed debates in Missouri.

Brenda Martens has more from the State Capitol.

RunTime:0:45
OutCue: SOC 

People on all sides of the sex education issue agree that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

But Democratic St. Louis Senator Jeff Smith says it shouldn't be the only thing taught.

 

Actuality:  JSMITH.WAV
Run Time: 00:12
Description: You know more than half of all teenagers in this country are having sex, and to be like ostriches and just bury our heads in the sand doesn't serve, you know, doesn't serve anyone's cause.


Currently, Missouri statutes permit school districts to decide on their own whether to teach abstinence only or comprehensive sex education programs.

The Missouri Department of Education has no statistics on how many schools in Missouri teach abstince only versus comprehensive programs.

From Jefferson City, I'm Brenda Martens.


Intro: Missouri legislators vary in their opinions on Governor Palin's pro-abstinence only sex education views.

Brenda Martens has more from the State Capitol.

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OutCue: SOC

Local control statutes in Missouri allow each school to determine which program they teach to students.

Republican Senator Chuck Purgason says he thinks abstinence should be stressed in curriculum but ultimately what is taught should be decided by parents.

Actuality:  PURG1.WAV
Run Time: 00:08
Description: I think that getting parents involved and running things through parents on what they want their schools to teach should be the main issue.

If parents disagree with what is taught in schools they do have the right to take their child out of a class.

Opponents of abstinence only programs say that students deserve to have all angles of sex ed presented to them so they can make informed decisions about their lives.

The Missouri Department of Education has no statistics on the number of schools teaching comprehensive sex ed versus abstinence only.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Brenda Martens.


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