(KCPW News) With Gonorrhea infections nearly doubling in Utah since 2000, and with teenage pregnancy rates increasing for the first time in more than a decade, the Planned Parenthood Action Council says it's time to change the state's abstinence-only sex education curriculum.
"We know comprehensive sex-education programs that include abstinence as a form of birth control have been found to help young people delay initiation of intercourse. We also know that abstinence-only education does not delay onset of intercourse, and in fact there's no difference between people who have had no sex-ed and abstinence-only sex-ed," says Missy Bird, Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Action Council.
Bird says sex education should focus on the importance of giving youth complete, medically accurate information. She says youth who choose to become sexually active aren't able to keep themselves safe because of a lack of information.
Kathy Burke, Assistant Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Utah, says there is a direct correlation between the rising rates of STDs in Utah and the lack of information provided to children.
"Currently what we teach about sexually transmitted infections is ‘ooh, here are these horrible pictures of people who have these diseases.' But we don't tell kids how to not get these diseases. There's no discussion of how using condoms will help prevent sexually transmitted infections," says Burke.
The Planned Parenthood Action Council will be gathering signatures to implement a more comprehensive sex-ed curriculum at the Salt Lake County Fair, August 6-9. A longer conversation about the state's sex-ed curriculum can be found on the Public Square page.