LPHI Releases Parent Survey Results on Sex Education
(New Orleans, LA) – November 20, 2019 – Today the Louisiana Public Health Institute released data from a statewide survey of parents on what they know, believe, and perceive about school-based sex education. Results from the survey confirm that, regardless of religious or political affiliation, Louisiana parents overwhelmingly support sex education in schools. Data shows that 83 percent of parents believe sex education is an important part of the school curriculum and 80 percent believe schools should be required to offer sex education.
“School-based sex education that is medically accurate and age appropriate, while also discussing abstinence, contraception and healthy relationships is a valuable tool to empower youth to live healthier lives,” said Kristie Bardell, managing director at the Louisiana Public Health Institute. “Our goal is to provide extra support for the primary role parents and caregivers have in educating their own children about sex and personal values.”
Almost two-thirds of parents surveyed said they tell their children to wait until they are married to have sex, but 94 percent of that group agrees that if their child decides to have sex before marriage they should be taught about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy.
“As people of faith it is our responsibility to help all people recognize their sacred lives as healthy and whole,” said Reverend Darcy Roake. “A large part of that responsibility is providing accurate information, particularly to young people, about their bodies and reproductive lives so they can make decisions that are informed, responsible and respectful of themselves and others. Giving a young person accurate information and helping them navigate choices and responsibilities in a complicated world lets them know that they too are sacred and worthy.”
Louisiana currently has some of the highest numbers in the nation for adolescent syphilis diagnoses, adolescent gonorrhea and chlamydia diagnoses, and adolescent HIV diagnoses. Despite these poor health outcomes among youth, state law does not require schools to teach sex education.
“Sex education reduces misinformation or lack of understanding about sexual health,” said Bardell. “A statewide curriculum with factual information helps teens make good decisions when facing issues related to sexual health, leading to better health outcomes.”
Some students receive sex education in school, but there is no way to track the quality of instruction. A state-wide sex education law would ensure all students receive quality sex education to help make informed decisions about their health. Three quarters of parents surveyed agree that a sex education program which emphasizes abstinence and also includes information on birth control, including condoms, should be taught in schools.
Sex education includes age-appropriate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality, including human development, healthy relationships, decision making, abstinence, contraception, cyber safety, sexual assault, and disease prevention. Sex education provides young people with facts on topics they will likely encounter and reinforces the conversation families may already be having at home. Sex education lowers the risk of unintended pregnancy, delays sexual activity, and reduces the number of sexual partners. It does not increase young people’s sexual activity.
Geaux Talk, an awareness initiative to engage Louisiana caregivers, students, educators, and legislators in honest, fact-based conversations about sex education, provides tools to start conversations about sexual health both at home and with school administrators. The full state-wide report and regional fact sheets can be accessed on the Geaux Talk site here.
About the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
LPHI, founded in 1997, is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit and public health institute that translates evidence into strategy to optimize health ecosystems. Our work focuses on uncovering complementary connections across sectors to combine the social, economic, and human resource needed to align action for health. We champion health for people, within systems, and throughout communities because we envision a world where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy. For more information, visit www.lphi.org.