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Sex Ed Overhaul Building Momentum in the Buckeye State

December 1, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Young people in Ohio are joining the growing number of voices pushing to revamp policies surrounding sex education and access to contraception. Today, testimony will be heard in the state House Education Committee on HB 316, called the Act for Our Children's Future, which would require that school districts teach medically-accurate information that could help prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, or STIs.

Youth leader K.D. Miller says abstinence is important, but wouldn't be the only part of comprehensive sex education under the bill.

"It would teach abstinence as the only 100 percent reliable way to not get pregnant or not get STIs, but it would also teach information about STIs, about condom use, birth control use, and the many other things that you can use to prevent STIs if you do choose to be sexually active."

Miller, who is the campus organizer for Advocates for Youth at the University of Cincinnati, says current policies do not allow for an open, honest dialogue on sexual education.

"Misinformation is a big problem, as well as just not giving all the information that there is. Our teens are choosing to have sex whether we want to admit that or not, so it's important to teach them all the different options."

Youth advocate Daniel Sparks of Parma says today's teens are naïve about sex education, so it's essential to arm them with the correct information.

"If we teach them how to be responsible then they can be held more accountable for their actions, and I think they'll be more confident in their decisions."

A similar bill that calls for comprehensive sexual education is under consideration in both the House and Senate, but that measure, the Ohio Prevention First Act, would also increase access to family planning services and contraception.

Some supporters of abstinence-only programs claim comprehensive sexual education encourages teen premarital sexual activity and can lead to STIs and increased pregnancy. But supporters of the measures say they will help ensure today's youth are informed and protected.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH