According to the Guttmacher Institute, Georgia requires sex and HIV education, but the state does not require the information to be medically accurate, age-appropriate, unbiased, or separate from religious ideations of sexual health.
What we can depend on when it comes to abstinence-only education is that it fails to promote positive changes. According to meta-analyses of programs over the years we know that it fails to delay intercourse, there’s no impact on the number of sexual partners and it does not reduce STIs or pregnancy. What it does do is reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, ignore students who have been sexually abused, and shame those who have already become sexually active. It withholds basic information about human sexuality and L.G.B.T.Q.I.A+ sexual health while simultaneously upholding false and stigmatizing information.
In Gwinnett County, abstinence-only education has been used since the year 2000. Since then, we have seen the pregnancy rate gap between the state of Georgia and our county grow smaller and smaller. Same goes for STIs.
In comparison to the rest of the country, Georgia has the 5th highest chlamydia rate, 4th highest syphilis rate, and 3rd highest gonorrhea rate in the United States. Georgia is also 3rd in our rate of unintended pregnancies. 60% of births are unintended pregnancies in our state. Out of our 159 counties, 79 counties don’t have an OB/GYN provider. It is no wonder that our maternal and infant mortality rates are the worst in the country. And let’s not forget that Atlanta, roughly 30 miles away, has a staggering HIV rate that has been compared to a 3rd world country.
With statistics like this, how can we justify the continued use of abstinence-only education? A curriculum that asserts condoms don’t work, uses scare tactics, not knowledge, and fails to prepare students for the rest of their lives?