Proposal Would Allow Student Surveys On Sexual Behaviors
A bill to allow public school students to be surveyed anonymously on sexual issues has passed a House committee.
Supporters of the bill say there is currently no way to evaluate the problem in order to form a solution.
Tulane researcher Dr. Patty Kissinger says the situation regarding sexually transmitted diseases among students is serious.
"We are number one for congenital syphilis. We're number two for gonorrhea. We're number three for syphilis. We're number four for chlamydia and also number four for HIV," said Kissinger. "We're sixth of all states in the United States for teen pregnancy."
Louisiana ranks near the top when it comes to high rates of teen pregnancy and teens contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Baton Rouge Rep. Barry Ivey, who opposes the bill, said a survey isn't needed to identify the problem.
We are number one for congenital syphilis. We're number two for gonorrhea. We're number three for syphilis. We're number four for chlamydia and also number four for HIV.
"It's common sense, OK," Ivey said. "What's wrong, OK? You already mentioned that you have the STDs. You have the birth rates. Well, why is that? Well, because they're engaging in sex."
Kissinger said because the issue cannot be evaluated, schools cannot receive federal money for interventions. She said the schools need to know what sexual behaviors are going on so they can act before students contract STDs.
"Monitoring the sexually transmitted infection rates and the HIV rate is not enough," Kissinger said. "We need to know what they're doing so we can develop and devise and use evidence-based interventions to reduce this."
Students would be randomly selected to take part in the survey and would have the option to refuse to take it. But Ivey said he thinks asking these questions of students is inappropriate.
"I would not want my daughter to receive some form asking her — and of course she doesn't have to fill it out — I wouldn't want her to want to read the questions about, 'Do you engage in this act' and whatever the form may be," Ivey said. "Because, you know what, my daughter is sheltered. And I wouldn't want her to have to even see that form."
The bill passed the House Education Committee 7-6.