Transcript Audio The U. In an attempt to reverse these trends, schools in West Virginia are having more candid conversations with students and introducing comprehensive sexual education curricula. These teachers and administrators in Beckley, West Virginia, are learning how to teach students comprehensive sex education. Nora Gelperin, from the non-profit Advocates for Youth, leads sessions like this all over the country. How do you break up with someone?
All those skills that both young people need, and adults need as well. West Virginia requires middle and high school health classes to cover sex education.
Since the s, teen pregnancy rates have decreased across the United States. Today, it has the 6th highest teen birth rate of the 50 states. Kierstin Edwards is one of those teen mothers, raising her two-year-old daughter, Aubrey, while staying in high school.
Edwards got pregnant at And it was a big surprise to me. He was my first. Before her pregnancy, Edwards had one sex ed class a year in her middle school. It was like one, basically an hour, and they told us everything, and then in 8th grade they told us everything again, but it was like, it was once a year when they did this. She says she taught her daughter about sex. If they teach it a lot more in school and not only at home too, you know, I think things could have been prevented. Of every eight babies that were born in West Virginia, one was born to a teen mother.
Selina Vickers is a state health coordinator who is trying to improve the sex ed curriculum. West Virginia is a very high poverty state anyway. It covers not only abstinence, but also consent, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual orientation, and sexual abuse.
The Federal Government funds a similar program, but also still promotes abstinence-only through Department of Health grants that started in the s.
In rural McDowell County, as recently as , one in ten teenage girls became pregnant, which was the highest rate in West Virginia. We always give the parents the choice to opt out of any class that we have that they would think would be controversial. Both say they barely had any sex ed in Middle School.
We had health, and that was about it. And they went over like the bone structure and dieting and exercising. How much knowledge did you have before you took the after school program? So what were some of the gaps in your knowledge about sex education? The different types of birth control. That you can get an injection in your arm to prevent it.
Did you find that information helpful? Yeah, it really did help. Dave Perry, a teacher and principal for 35 years who sits on the State Board of Education says he prefers a simple sex ed curriculum that stresses abstinence only. And I think abstinence is foolproof, percent.
Perry says his religious objections to teaching more than the minimum about sex are shared by many people in this state. Perry worries comprehensive sex ed could make teenagers want to have sex. So, I think to what extent and to what extent you teach, what you teach you get. That number goes up to close to 60 percent by twelfth grade. When we look at actually comprehensive sex education and covering all of these topics, you know, data has shown that, you know, those students that participate in those programs have, you know, less, they delay sexual activity, they have less sexual partners or more compliant with things like condoms and contraception.
Eighteen-year-old high school senior Isom Bailey also attended Teen Talk. I would like to learn the mistakes that can happen. Isom says he and his girlfriend plan to delay sex. I think that you should be more respectful to them and not just think about yourself and your own needs and wants.
Beyond the new curriculum and after school program, McDowell County medical clinics that operate inside the high schools offer teens free contraception, including condoms, and the pill, without parental consent.
While these controversial changes are in the early stages, school superintendent Nelson Spencer believes they are having an impact. Listen to this Segment.