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Illinois Sex Ed Classes Will Now Include Birth Control Information

Illinois Sex Ed Classes Will Now Include Birth Control Information

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

When Illinois students go back to school this fall, they can expect to receive more comprehensive sexual health information in their health classes. Since state lawmakers recently banned abstinence-only education, public school districts that provide sex ed will need to update their curricula to include comprehensive information about preventing pregnancy and STDs.

HB 2675, which Gov. Pat Quinn (D) plans to sign into law, will take effect on January 1. After that point, public schools’ health classes won’t be allowed to emphasize abstinence without any mention of prevention methods.

Many of the state’s school districts say they won’t need to change their curricula too much because they already teach adequate sex ed. State officials can’t verify that claim, since the Illinois Board of Education doesn’t currently track public schools’ sex education classes. But it’s disputed by outside research. In 2008, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that although 93 percent of the state’s public school districts did offer sex ed courses, only 65 percent of sex ed teachers were including comprehensive information about birth control and STDs. Supporters of HB 2675 say that’s partly why the state has such a high rate of sexually transmitted infections — particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea — among teens.

Other states have demonstrated the positive effects of expanding comprehensive sex ed. In California, public health officials recently reported that the state’s teen birth rate plummeted by 60 percent over the past two decades — something they directly credit to the success of new state laws requiring public schools to teach scientifically accurate information about birth control.

However, Illinois may not experience quite as dramatic of a shift since abstinence proponents will likely be able to exploit loopholes in the new law. School districts are allowed to forgo teaching sex ed if they want to, so the new standards only apply to the schools that choose to offer sex ed classes in the first place. And the Associated Press reports that the Chicago-based Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership, which produces abstinence-based sex ed curricula, is telling its clients that HB 2675 won’t require them to make any changes. Its abstinence courses already cover birth control — just “not in great detail.”

“We don’t teach them how to use contraception, but we teach them what it is,” the group’s executive director, Scott Phelps, explained. “We don’t see how our curricula would in any way violate the new law.”

Research into right-wing abstinence programming has consistently found that it often imparts factually inaccurate information about sexual health resources. By telling kids that birth control is likely to fail, many young Americans falsely believe it doesn’t make a difference at all. A full 60 percent of U.S. teens believe that contraception is less effective than it actually is.

This article was originally published in ThinkProgress.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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86 comments

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9:30PM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

The truth shall set you free: the truth about birth control and how to use it, the truth that abortion doesn't cause cancer or make you crazy or whatever other lies they're telling in crisis pregnancy centers, the truth about climate change, the truth about the efficacy of praying away the gay... Why don't Republicans trust people with the truth about anything?

1:50PM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

" By telling kids that birth control is likely to fail, many young Americans falsely believe it doesn’t make a difference at all. A full 60 percent of U.S. teens believe that contraception is less effective than it actually is."

And this is why the out of wedlock birth rate is what it is. If you don't provide kids with accurate information, if you lie about what you do provide, they will simply decide you are always lying and disbelieve anything you say. But they will not stop having sex, they will just do it without protection against STDs or pregnancy. Brilliant adult minds actually think this is a good idea. Heaven forbid you tell them the truth and the whole truth all the time. It might lead to them thinking for themselves and doing what they are going to anyway only safely. And they say adults are the smart ones. Any time you let ideology rule over reason, you are really asking for trouble, and likely to get it.

11:54AM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

How can sexual education classes NOT contain birth control information? That is like saying math classes will now include information about numbers. If the "classes" originally did not contain birth control information then they were not sex education classes, they were propaganda!

8:00AM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

I grew up here, (and my child now goes to public Chicago school,) as I was going through elementary, junior high school and high school, I found our sexual education programs to be fantastic. Comprehensive information not only on birth control and STD's, but also on pregnancy. You want to scare kids away from engaging in unprotected sex? When we were in the sixth grade our school made us watch a video where a woman gives birth. Most terrifying thing I have ever seen :) Then they told me it was REAL! A lot of crossed legs in that auditorium. Later on, Mr. Frohman taught us, (awkwardly, but determinedly,) how to put a condom on a banana. I'm happy Quinn is assuring the constituents of IL that our children will be taught fact-based complete sexual education. A lot of it has to do with the teacher, though, too. Just because you've been hired to teach science or whatnot doesn't mean you're a good choice for teaching kids about sex.

11:58AM PDT on Aug 18, 2013

Good

5:49AM PDT on Aug 18, 2013

sex education and birth control should have always gone hand in hand with each other

10:39PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

holly molly, will wonders never cease!.......a school district daring to teach fact based sex-ed...what next? .... will they be teaching a fact based drug curriculum....this is a positive step..
with students able to throw their 2 cents in to the mix.....with field trips!

5:22AM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

Doesn't make sense to me. I would think that sex education and birth control would go hand-in-hand.

4:33PM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

Older teens need accurate, modern advice on contraception. Some of them will be married soon, which means they'll be making decisions.

7:44AM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

Parents are failing to do this, rushed medical appointments are no place to get educated so it is the responsibility of the schools to ensure the health of our community and future generations. Given my healthy skepticism for the educational system we have in place that is saying a lot but then getting information from your friend who you can't even trust to pick out a pair of socks is not a healthy option. Whether sex happens consensually or not children need to be informed of the options and available services out there for their health needs. Period. Many parents themselves do not have the proper education or are fully aware of services available in their community.

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