Editor Picks / all

Who Controls Sex Education?

by share

In this Q&A segment, we speak with Lauren Barineau on disease prevention, Georgia’s sex education policy and more. Barineau is a training and technical assistance coordinator at the nonprofit Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential (GCAPP). She designs and delivers trainings for adults who work with youth related to reproductive health, effective sexual health education and other teen health topics. She has been with GCAPP for four years.

Q: Who has more control over curriculum: parents or the county/state — why?

A: The state law says that the course can include things like: human biology, conception, pregnancy, birth, STDs/ AIDS… and should include other instruction. The state board of education policy toss it to each local school district. Then, each of those local school districts can come up with their own disease-prevention or sex-education course of study…

The board of education is encouraging of the districts to include instruction in relating to peer pressure, promoting high self-esteem, local community values, abstinence from sex as an effective method, preventing AIDS and pregnancy.

Parents do always have the right to opt their young person out, and there is a policy that each local board of education should have a committee to review the sex education material that they’re using. Committees should include a diverse group of parents and a male and female representative from the school; they can consult experts like people who are in public health…

I think that the PTSA can play a big role in helping to shape which way the county goes with a particular curriculum, but really the county has the most control.

Q: How does one avoid the stigma associated with trying to have safe sex or gain access to resources?

A: I think the more teenagers have access to services … clinical services or resources in school … about safer sex, the less stigma there will be. The more we are able to welcome teens into those spaces, the less stigma there is. Stigma will always be an issue, and that’s related to culture and sex in American society on how we deal with that; even adults struggle with it. Recently, there has been work on developing practices to better create spaces where young people feel safe and welcome…feel less stigmatized.”

Q: Do you have any clinics that promote safe sexual health that have teen-friendly hours and exhibit a welcoming atmosphere to teens?

A: “We have the ‘gPower’ app, and it’s a clinic locator app. You can go to the Apple or Android store to get the app; it’s free. What you can do is type in a zip code, and the app will provide clinics that are likely to provide free or reduced services for young people. The app also comes with critic reviews, so teens can provide feedback about how well or not a clinic has been to them. It’s Georgia specific, so it gives you different locations within a 10 to 15 mile radius.”

Other resources curated by G-CAPP for youth — like a brochure about teens’ rights — are online at gcapp.org/youth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *