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Mississippi State Law Requires Public Schools to Teach Gay Sex Is ‘Unnatural’ Crime

(Photo: Stuart Seeger)

(Photo: Stuart Seeger)

Mississippi law mandates that the public high school students be taught that gay sex is a crime under state law and that sexual intercourse is only acceptable between a monogamously married man and woman.

The Huffington Post reports Mississippi has required all school districts to provide ‘abstinence-centered’ sex education since 2012, when a law mandating “abstinence-only or abstinence-plus education” was passed by the state legislature. The law, which also requires male and female students to be segregated for sex education classes and bans condom distribution in schools, forces teachers to instruct pupils that “unnatural intercourse” is a crime and that a “monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.”

Under Mississippi law, “every person who shall be convicted of the detestable and abominable crime against nature committed against mankind or with a beast shall be punished by imprisonment” for as long as 10 years.

Mississippi’s sodomy law isn’t just highly controversial, it’s also unenforceable, ever since the US Supreme Court struck down such statutes as unconstitutional violations of privacy in the landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case.

But in Mississippi, where conservative Christian values prevail, support for LGBT rights and equality are among the lowest in the nation. Fully 69 percent of Mississippi residents believe same-sex marriage should be illegal, and it has been outlawed under a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of “only… a man and a woman,” which was approved by 86 percent of the state’s voters. Mississippi was one of 11 states in which voters banned gay marriage in 2004; more than 20 other states have also done so.

Last week, Mississippi attracted more negative national attention after Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a “religious freedom” bill that critics claim effectively legalizes anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. A similar measure was recently vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, also a Republican, who acknowledged its discriminatory nature and the lack of any documented infringement of religious rights.

Mississippi’s controversial sex education curriculum has come under fire before, both for its content and its ineffectiveness in curbing teen sex and pregnancies. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported students at Oxford High School were instructed to unwrap a chocolate candy, pass it around the classroom and note how it was damaged. According to one parent, the lesson was meant “to show that a girl is no longer clean or valuable after she’s had sex— that she’s been used.”

Abstinence-only sex education does not work, numerous studies have shown. In Mississippi, 76 percent of teenagers reported having sex before the end of high school. The state also had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation in 2012, with 55 births per 1,000 15-19 year-old females in 2011. The national figure is 29 per 1,000. One in three babies born in Mississippi have teenage mothers.

Birth Rate among 15-19 year-old teens, 2012. (US Centers for Disease Control)

Birth Rate among 15-19 year-old teens, 2012. (US Centers for Disease Control)

In Hollandale, population 3,400, 73 out of 1,000 local females ages 15-19 have babies. And the chlamydia rate is triple the national average. But when Sanford Johnson of the education reform group Mississippi First cited these scary statistics when making the case for contraception education in the local high school, he was told by locals that people who have premarital sex don’t go to ‘Heaven.’ The school board chose abstinence-only.

“This is a very devoutly religious community— church-oriented and Bible-based; that’s what they wanted for their children,” local school board president Pamela Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “The board was adamant that we wanted to implement the curriculum that was based on our community’s beliefs.”

According to a 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Reproductive Health, there is a strong correlation between the level of religious self-identification in a state and its teen pregnancy rate.

(Source: Data Driven Viewpoints)

(Source: Data Driven Viewpoints)

In Mississippi the Scriptures and conservative Southern values, often formed and perpetuated by bigotry and ignorance, indeed rule among a large segment of the population. According to a 2012 poll, more than half of likely Republican primary voters in the state believed President Obama is a Muslim. Nearly 30 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal, and most believe that the Bible is the literal word of ‘God.’ Atheists are banned from holding public office in the state under an unconstitutional statute supported by many conservative Christians.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael FitzgeraldApril 9, 2014 at 3:21 pmReply

    They are idiots, but what can you expect from a state that still flies a state flag that contains the old “stars and bars” of the Confederacy, bringing to mind a past that one would think they would want people to forget.

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