September 2009 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
or choose print from the menu)

Florida School District Votes to Include Information about Contraception in Sexuality Education Policy

Collier County, FL
After a summer of debate, the school board of Collier County, FL voted to update its abstinence-only sex education policy to include information about contraception. With the majority of school board members deeming the current policy too vague, the 3–2 vote affirms a new policy which would require schools to address “reproductive and sexual health, including the risks and benefits of contraception and sexually transmitted disease-prevention methods, the consequences of teenage pregnancy, responsible decision making, and abstinence as the only certain way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.”[1]
The Chair of the school board brought the content of the sexuality education policy into question several months ago because he was troubled that it lacked clarity and failed to mandate a comprehensive model. That policy, which was derived from Florida state statutes, mandated schools to teach students that “sexual abstinence [is] the expected standard” and to highlight the consequences of teenage pregnancy.[2] The school board first voted in July—again 3–2—to revise this policy.[3] After the vote, the board chair and the school board attorney worked together to revise the policy and draft the new version. They have argued that their revision includes more information and will help clarify what should be taught in classrooms.[4]  
Prior to the new policy, sexuality education in Collier County schools was taught to both middle school and high school students. At the middle school level, students received sexuality education during a ten day unit in science classes. High school students received sexuality education through a required, one-credit physical education/ health education integration course. The curricula for both the middle school and high school level stressed abstinence, taught about STDs and HIV, and included information about sexual decision making. While some courses did include information about contraception, some school board members feared that without a new policy, there was no guarantee that this important topic was covered.[5]
There were mixed feelings concerning the new draft both among school board members and the community at large; while some felt that the revision is necessary to provide teens with essential information, others strongly opposed the revision and want to stick to abstinence-only-until-marriage messages. Prior to voting on the matter, school board members welcomed a crowd of seventy parents and community members who debated the issue for nearly two hours.  One former student spoke in favor of the new policy explaining that she never received sex education in school and instead “took it upon myself to inform myself about contraceptives…and it taught me to have more respect for my body and what to do with it.”[6] A mother of a current student, in contrast, said that she sees the new policy “as flying in the face of what this nation is founded on, which was God.”[7] Others argued that the new policy will “provid[e] information and creat[e] a space where kids can talk about issues and ask questions” to trusted, well-informed adults.[8]
After being approved in late September, the school board members and the community took six weeks to review the policy and the board cast a final vote for the new additions on November 19th.[9]

[1] Katherine Albers, “Collier School Board to talk about sex, contraception methods,” Naples News, 27 Sept 2009, accessed 29 Sept 2009, <>.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Katherine Albers, “School Board agrees to add contraception education to sex ed policy,” Naples News, 29 Sept 2009, accessed 29 Sept 2009, <>.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Kelly Creswell, “Sex ed a heated issue for Collier School Board,” ABC News, 29 Sept 2009, accessed 29 Sept 2009, <>.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Katherine Albers, “Contraception education now part of sex ed policy in Collier County schools,” Naples News, 10 November 2009, accessed 4 December 2009, <>.