Mississippi Burning: The Need for Comprehensive Sex Education

Last week a Mississippi public school teacher named Sanford Johnson received public attention when a YouTube video he created went viral. The video educates viewers on how to use a condom by displaying "How to put on a sock". Mr. Johnson came up with this idea because abstinence-only restrictions in states like Mississippi prohibit any demonstration on how to use condoms or other contraceptives in public schools.

Abstinence-only sex education laws are antiquated and do not offer a practical preventative tool to respond to very real problems. The Mississippi public school administrators need to look no further than the data to support this conclusion. As of 2012, Mississippi led the country in:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, over 54 percent of high-school-aged students in Mississippi have had intercourse, 40 percent were currently sexually active and nearly 20 percent of those high-school-aged students had sexual intercourse with four or more partners. In fact, almost 12 percent of high school teens engaged in intercourse before the age of 13 and 39 percent of high schoolers said they did not use protection the last time they had intercourse. Given this data, it is irresponsible and inconceivable for administrators to support policies that refuse to provide students with the education to properly protect themselves if they make the decision to engage in sexual intercourse.

Teens are having sex and should be taught comprehensive sex education in schools. In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that schools be considered appropriate sites for the availability of condoms because they contain large populations of adolescents and are great distribution points for targeted educational and health resources.

It is time that states like Mississippi review their current sex education legislation and re-evaluate what should and should not be allowed to be taught in their classrooms. Videos like Sanford Johnson's are needed and impactful. As the founder of b condoms, a socially-responsible condom company, we work with a significant number of educators across the country. There is a collective sentiment that outdated educational laws such as those in Mississippi ignore the facts. These educators want a fundamental shift in how we teach and talk to our teens in these states. Innovative educators like Sanford Johnson ought to be supported, not ostracized.

If Mississippi is committed to change -- instead of being content with leading the nation in gonorrhea and chlamydia -- it will begin to change its sexual education policy and learn how to properly engage educators like Sanford Johnson to provide students with the tools needed to protect their own sexual health.