Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd (D), the state’s first openly gay legislator, is once again introducing a bill to repeal the state’s 1992 sex education law, which requires teacehrs to teach that homosexuality is illegal and that “abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage is the expected social standard.” Todd pre-filed the bill ahead of the 2013 legislative session that will begin on February 5.
If the legislature approves the law, then the Alabama Department of Education would be in charge of establishing the state’s sex education programs instead of the legislature:
“The Department of Education needs to be making those guidelines, not the Legislature,” Todd said.
“We need to make sure there is evidence-based education being done in the schools, and all the evidence shows that abstinence-only is not effective.”
The bill would have no effect on the state’s sexual-misconduct law, which makes homosexual acts a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year imprisonment. But it would strike requirements that teachers emphasize “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense.”
Including Alabama, 37 states currently emphasize abstinence in their sexual health curricula. Alabama is one of 19 states that actually require sex education programs to include information about the importance of sex only within marriage. But considering the fact that the states with abstinence-only policies are facing staggering teen pregnancy rates, some conservatives in Mississippi are beginning to slowly move away from abstinence-only education curricula in favor of including contraceptive options as well.