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Governor Nixon signed the first bill advancing sexual health education in over a decade for Missouri. The bill, HB 501, was sponsored by Rep. Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) and requires information about internet safety and the dangers of sextingto be added to sex education law.
The passage of Montecillo's bill marks the first time since 1999, when the legislature passed a voluntary comprehensive sex education* law, improvements to sexual health have been addressed.
Mary M. Kogut, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said:
“The importance of providing young people with the information they need to make safe, informed choices and lead healthy lives is paramount as so many of our youth communicate via technology. Adding internet safety information to sex education is a needed first step and on behalf of Missouri’s youth, we thank Governor Nixon for updating Missouri’s law.”
Laura McQuade, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, added further action must address "ineffective and dangerous abstinence-only education," saying:
“As a trusted provider of evidence-based, comprehensive sex education to thousands of Missourians, Planned Parenthood knows young people need and deserve complete, inclusive information about healthy relationships and sexuality. While we applaud Governor Nixon’s signing, we also call on the Missouri legislature to stop short-changing Missouri young people by allowing ineffective and dangerous abstinence-only sex education in our public schools. We look forward to working with legislators to complete today’s victory and pass comprehensive sex education in 2016.”
Comprehensive sex education is effective. And that has been proven time and time again.
Evaluations of comprehensive sex education programs show that these programs can help youth delay onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use. Importantly, the evidence shows youth who receive comprehensive sex education are NOT more likely to become sexually active, increase sexual activity, or experience negative sexual health outcomes.
While this is good step forward, there is much more work to be done to educate and empower our youth on issues of sexual health.
*Unfortunately, this law was significantly weakened in 2007.