1997 Regular Session
By: Representatives Martinson, Wells-Smith
House Bill 52
AN ACT TO REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN MISSISSIPPI TO EMPHASIZE RESPONSIBLE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND PREVENTION OF ALCOHOL USE AND ILLEGAL DRUG USE IN EDUCATIONAL COURSES ON THOSE SUBJECTS; TO SPECIFY THE CONTENTS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN ANY COURSES ON SEX EDUCATION AND DRUG EDUCATION; TO PROHIBIT THE ENCOURAGEMENT OR PROPOSITIONING TO SCHOOL CHILDREN OF ANY RIGHT TO ENGAGE IN ILLEGAL CONDUCT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Legislature finds that:
(a) Pregnancy and childbirth among unmarried adolescents, particularly young adolescents, often result in severe adverse health, social and economic consequences, including a higher percentage of pregnancy and childbirth complications, a higher incidence of low birth weight babies, a higher frequency of developmental disabilities, higher infant mortality and morbidity, a decreased likelihood of completing school, a greater likelihood that an adolescent marriage will end in divorce, and higher risks of unemployment and welfare dependency; and
(b) Drug and alcohol abuse diminish the strength and vitality of the young people of our nation and state, and an increasing number of substances, both legal and illegal, are being abused by increasing numbers of school children, even at the grade school level. Abuse of any substance causes human behavior that negatively influences many forces, including school, family, church, community, media and peer groups. Prevention and early intervention in this behavior require cooperation and coordination involving strategies designed to respond to carefully defined problems in which the education system of the state can play an important role.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the following are the purposes of this act:
(a) To find effective means, within the context of the school environment, of reaching adolescents before they become sexually active in order to maximize the guidance and support available to adolescents from teachers, parents and other family members, and to promote self discipline and other prudent approaches to the problem of premarital sexual relations of adolescents, including adolescent pregnancy;
(b) To encourage the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse among children in the public schools, to stimulate the development of improved approaches to the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, to demonstrate the use of these approaches in model educational programs and to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs; and
(c) To disseminate successful approaches and significant information for use in educational programs throughout the public schools and to provide training programs for school administrators, teachers and counselors.
SECTION 2. (1) Any program or curriculum in the public schools of Mississippi which includes sex education or the human reproductive process shall include and emphasize the following elements:
(a) Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only completely effective protection against unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when transmitted sexually; and
(b) Abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of marriage is the expected social standard for unmarried school-age persons.
(2) Course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases shall be age-appropriate and shall include the following elements:
(a) An emphasis on sexual abstinence as the only completely reliable method of avoiding unwanted teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
(b) An emphasis on the importance of self-control and ethical conduct pertaining to sexual behavior;
(c) Statistics based on the latest medical information which indicate the degree of reliability and unreliability of various forms of contraception and which emphasize the increased protection against pregnancy and protection against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS infection, which is afforded by the use of various contraceptive measures;
(d) Information concerning any state or federal laws relating to the financial responsibilities associated with pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing;
(e) Information concerning any state or federal laws prohibiting sexual abuse, the need to report such abuse and the legal options available to victims of sexual abuse;
(f) Information on how to cope with and rebuff unwanted physical and verbal sexual exploitation by other persons;
(g) Psychologically sound methods of resisting unwanted peer pressure;
(h) An emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public; and
(i) Comprehensive instruction in parenting skills and responsibilities, including the responsibility to pay child support by noncustodial parents, the penalties for nonpayment of child support and the legal ethical responsibilities of child care and child rearing.
SECTION 3. Any program or curriculum in the public schools of Mississippi which includes drug education or instructs on the use of drugs or alcohol shall include the following elements:
(a) Age-appropriate, developmentally-based drug and alcohol education and prevention programs that address the legal, social and health consequences of drug and alcohol use and which provide information about effective techniques for resisting peer pressure to use illicit drugs or alcohol for students in kindergarten through grade 12;
(b) Information conveying to students that the use of illicit drugs and the unlawful possession and use of alcohol is wrong and harmful and is punishable by fines and imprisonment;
(c) Standards of conduct which are applicable to students and employees in all public schools and which clearly prohibit, at a minimum, the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on school premises or at school activities; and
(d) A clear statement that sanctions, consistent with local, state and federal law, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment and referral for prosecution, will be imposed on students and employees who violate the standards of conduct required by paragraph (c) of this section. A description of those sanctions shall be included in the statement.
SECTION 4. Conduct that is illegal under state or federal law, including but not limited to, illegal use or distribution of controlled substances, under-age alcohol use or distribution, sexual intercourse imposed by means of force or sexual actions that are otherwise illegal shall not be encouraged or proposed to public school children in such a manner as to indicate that they have a legitimate right to decide or choose illegal conduct.
SECTION 5. The provisions of this act are severable. If any part of this act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the declaration shall not affect the parts which remain.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.