Since the turn of the century, Ohio has required that schools teach abstinence until marriage as the expected standard for sexuality, and also that sexual activity by teens produces serious physical, psychological, emotional, and social side effects. Supporters have applauded the effort, but many felt the law lacked any real teeth.
That changed last year, when the Ohio Department of Education told all of the state's school districts to report what they are teaching and how closely they were following the law. Since those findings came out, organizations like Mission America and Protect Ohio Children have been reviewing them.
"The good news is there are a bunch of schools that are adhering to the abstinence standard, and that's great," begins Linda Harvey of Mission America. "But there's also quite a bit of bad news and some very unclear news. There were a ton of schools that reported virtually nothing."
The larger school districts in Ohio account for 20% of school children, and many of those districts are teaching what Harvey calls explicit and inappropriate "comprehensive sexuality education" (CSE), which may mention abstinence in passing, but concentrates on giving students "skills" for contraceptive/condom use, presents an uncritical view of abortion as an alternative, and minimizes the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Harvey advises parents to see the Protect Ohio Children Coalition's report on the issue and then applaud schools that are doing a good job, urge the schools that are reported nothing to provide more information, and tell the schools that are not adhering to state law to "get your act together because you're endangering our kids."