OXFORD, Miss. - The Oxford Public School Board has reversed its previous decision on teaching sex education and district schools will now teach Abstinence Plus rather than Abstinence Only. The change came after a parent group rallied for evidence-based sex education.
PLUS Parents prepared for the night of the board meeting for months. They requested documents, wrote letters, showed up at the district office, and passed around a petition that boasted hundreds of signatures. Their objective – get Oxford Public Schools to adopt an evidence-based sex education policy.
The night of the board meeting, all public comment favored evidence-based Abstinence Plus. One of the speakers was high school senior Dora Chen.
“We need to make that knowledge available and not just for high school,” says Chen. “If we want to best ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, while have to start in middle school.”
The only vocal opposition came from board members Denny Tosh and Dr. Buddy Chain. Chain said the data is conflicting and challenged board member Marian Barksdale for citing the Health Department as authoritative source.
Here is the transcript:
Barksdale: “I would think we should respond with the programs that are the most evidence based and medically accurate.”
Chain: “According to who?”
Barksdale: “According to…?”
Chain: “According to the US Department of Health and Human Services?”
Barksdale: I don’t know who else to depend on than federal and state data.”
Chain: “Old data!”
In the end, Barksdale’s amendment passed.
Parent and local attorney Sharon Andrews headed many of the efforts of PLUS Parents and says she couldn’t help but notice the gender-split vote. Women favored evidence-based: men favored Abstinence Only. And Andrews says, there is still work to be done.
“Well I need a break, first of all,” says Andrews. ” But after recuperate; I think the state really needs to be changed. With that in mind, I think I might start drafting a proposed bill.”
Oxford Public Schools and all other Mississippi public schools have until Friday to submit their sex education choice to state officials.