- Mississippi state law mandates the teaching of sexuality education, though it is not required to be comprehensive.
- All sex ed curricula must stress abstinence through abstinence-only or abstinence-plus instruction.
- Under Section 37-13-171 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, abstinence instruction may include lessons on the benefits of abstinence and the negative effects of not abstaining; the harm that can come from an unplanned pregnancy; how to reject sexual advances; how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and that a “mutually faithful, monogamous marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.” And while not every component needs to be addressed, no instruction provided under an abstinence-only program may contradict any of these components.
- Abstinence-plus programs may not include lessons on the application and use of condoms.
- No lessons shall teach that abortion can be used to prevent the birth of a baby.
- Students must be separated by gender during all sex ed lessons.
- Sex ed curricula are not required to include instruction on consent.
- All sex ed curricula must inform students of current state law related to homosexual activity. Mississippi Code Annotated 97-29-59 outlaws sodomy though, in 2003, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in Lawrence v. Texas that declared that state laws criminalizing homosexual behavior to be unconstitutional.
- Parents or guardians must receive notification at least one week prior to any human sexuality instruction and schools must receive written permission from them before the student can participate in a sex ed course. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
Some Sex Ed Advocates Within the State
For more detailed information on how various districts in the state have been implementing these standards — and for recent legislation — you can read SIECUS’s Mississippi profile.