North Carolina Schools Should Provide Sex Education Options, Including Course Addressing HIV/AIDS Prevention, Editorial States
North Carolina schools should offer a choice between the abstinence-only sex education that most state schools provide and a more comprehensive curriculum that discusses contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS prevention, a Greensboro News & Record editorial states. Abstinence is "surely the most effective" way to avoid STDs and pregnancy, but "keep[ing] young people ignorant" of alternative methods will have a "steep" toll on teens, according to the News & Record. Communities should offer a "two-track" sex education system similar to one adopted by New Hanover County, N.C., that gives parents a choice between an abstinence-only curriculum and a course that takes offers "more in-depth discussion" of pregnancy and disease prevention, including HIV/AIDS, the editorial says. Such an approach accommodates a "wide range of parental opinions," while "still arming students with the tools to protect themselves," according to the News & Record (Greensboro News & Record, 8/17). More than 100 North Carolina school systems' health education courses recommend abstinence until marriage as the best way to avoid STDs and pregnancy. The programs discuss condoms and other birth control methods only in relation to their effectiveness rates, according to Gaston County, N.C., health instruction coordinator Alice Ray. Only 12 school systems in the state have expanded their sex education programs under a 1995 state law that allows districts to include information on condoms and other contraceptive methods. A 1997 study showed that 61% of North Carolina high school students are sexually active (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 8/12). Parents are justified in wanting to teach "their moral attitudes about sexuality"; however, the medical and physical facts about HIV/AIDS and other STDs "have no agenda," according to the News & Record. The editorial concludes that the recent lapse in concern about HIV prevention among young people shows that "medically accurate family life education about a range of choices" should be an option for students at North Carolina schools (Greensboro News & Record, 8/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.