Remember, policymakers work for you, the local citizen. Voicing your concerns about issues facing the community they serve is the only way they’ll know how to vote for what the constituents want. Change in a community starts with its citizens.
Outlined below are fact sheets, talking points, and an email/letter template to encourage and empower you and other parents and caregivers to Geaux Talk to policymakers.
Comprehensive sex education (CSE) will help our youth be smarter about their sexual health. In recent years, Louisiana has seen an increase in teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STDs).
CSE programs have been shown to be highly effective in preventing the onset of sex, as well as reducing teen pregnancy and STD rates. Click HERE to download fact sheets about the current state of Louisiana’s health and sex education and arm yourself with information.
Review the Requirements
- Louisiana Revised Statute 17:281 does not require SE instruction at any grade level, but schools are allowed to teach SE in grades 7–12 (grades 3-12 under the Orleans Parish School Board).
- SE has to emphasize abstinence but may include information on birth control and condoms.
- Birth control and condoms cannot be distributed on school grounds.
- Although comprehensive sex education (CSE) is allowed, the Governor’s Office accepts Federal Title V Abstinence Education funds, which can only be used to promote abstinence.
- Abstinence-only education programs are not effective at delaying the initiation of sexual activity, yet the Governor’s Office continues to promote this option to schools.
Louisiana and United States Sexual Health Statistics
- Teen Pregnancy
- In 2015, Louisiana had the 6th highest teen birth rate in the nation.
- Of all births to females under 20 years of age in 2013, 17% were repeat births and 12% were low birthweight.
- The teen pregnancy rate in Louisiana was 66 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2011. The national rate was 52 per 1,000.
- 30% of teen girls who have dropped out cite pregnancy or parenthood as a reason.
- Only 38% of mothers who have a child before age 18 complete high school by age 22 and less than 2% attain a college degree by age 30.
- The daughters of young teen mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
- In 2015, Louisiana had the highest rate of reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis among young people aged 15–19 in the United States.
- In 2015, Louisiana ranked 2nd in the United States for reported cases of gonorrhea among young people aged 15–19.
- Louisiana ranked 2nd in reported cases of chlamydia among young people aged 15–19 in the United States in 2015.
- Louisiana’s HIV infection rate among young people aged 13–19 ranked 2nd in the United States in 2011.
- Louisiana’s AIDS rate among young people aged 13–19 ranks 4th in the United States.
Why do we need parent resources & CSE in schools?
- Parents and caregivers want to discuss sexual health with their children but do not feel equipped to do so.
- They want education about sex, sexuality, and information on how to discuss sexual health-related topics with children/adolescents.
- Parents and caregivers identify schools as a good source of sex education for themselves.
- Parents and caregivers expressed that discussing sexual health topics is not only uncomfortable, but that they are in need of training/education of their own in order to be able to approach sexual health topics with their children.
- There is a difference between feeling comfortable discussing sexual health with one’s children and feeling that those conversations are effective.
- Focus group participants who were comfortable bringing up sex-related topics with their children were not confident that these conversations were effective/would impact their child’s behavior.
According to survey results, parents and caregivers have expressed interest in their children being taught about the following topics:
- Rape, date rape, sexual assault
- Self-esteem building and coping skills
- Spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDs
- Talking to parents and caregivers about sexual health
- Peer pressure to have sex
- Healthy and unhealthy relationships/ abuse
- Benefits of not having sex, abstinence
- Stress and its effect on the body
- Basics of puberty and reproduction
- Use of and obtaining birth control and condoms
- How to put a condom on
- Sexual orientation and gender
These talking points will serve as an outline for your conversation so you can Geaux Talk to school board members and policymakers with confidence. Whether you call, meet in person, or use the provided mail/email templates, these methods are the first step in initiating change.
5 Tips for talking to policymakers
- Introduce yourself. Tell them your name, that you’re a constituent, where in Louisiana you’re from (or your parish), and any organizations you’re tied to.
- Be specific. Busy policy makers do not have a lot of time, so keep messages simple and brief. Focus on one community issue at a time (i.e., sex education).
- Give an example. Short anecdotes are a great way to show how the issue is personally affecting your family and community.
- Call to action. Tell them specifically what you want them to do next — in this case, that could mean bringing up (and advocating for) CSE at the next school board meeting. Asking a question, such as when the school board member might be voting on a topic like CSE, elicits a response.
- Thank them for their time and consideration of the CSE initiative and mention you look forward to a response.
Facts to Mention
- According to research, abstinence-only programs are deemed ineffective at delaying the onset of sex and reducing rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. On the other hand, CSE programs have been shown to be highly effective.
- Although comprehensive sex education (CSE) is currently allowed, the Governor’s Office accepts Federal Title V Abstinence Education funds, which can only be used to promote abstinence from sexual activity.
Notable Statistics from Surveyed Parents & Caregivers to Mention
- 60% of Louisiana parents and caregivers surveyed believe their child has received or will receive SE in school, when in reality, they likely have/will not.
- 89% of parents and caregivers surveyed want their child to learn self-esteem building and coping skills.
- 84% want them to learn about stress and how it affects the body.
- 90% want them to learn about bullying as it pertains to sexual health.
- 87% about healthy and unhealthy relationships and signs of abuse.
- 90% about rape, date rape, and what to do if someone is sexually assaulted.
- 84% of parents and caregivers surveyed agreed the basics of puberty and reproduction, which includes pregnancy and birth, should be taught at an age appropriate level.
- Parents and caregivers want to be certain that their children are learning age-appropriate and factual sex education from trained professionals.