by PAUL GEORGE and LINDSAY TOSTEAssemblyman David Bobzien, along with sexual health advocates, spoke to a crowd on the steps of the Nevada Legislature on Monday promoting a bill that would require comprehensive sexual education in Nevada public schools.
As Bobzien spoke to the crowd, a group of young people stood behind him with bright pink signs that stated: “Real Sexual Education Saves Lives” and “Birds do it, bees do it, NV teens do it, Support Sex Education”.
“Nevada is fourth in the nation with our teen pregnancy rate,” Bobzien said. “That’s 7,330 pregnancies for the year that we have the most recent data.”
The 10 states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates, Bobzien said, have comprehensive sexual education.
Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains spoke next. While sex education is required by Nevada law, she said, it is applied unevenly.
Cowart said you need medically accurate sexual health information in order to develop responsible decision making skills.
“Youth who receive comprehensive sex education delay the onset of sexual activity,” Cowart said. “They increase the use of condoms and contraception.”
Elisha Morgan, a high school student from Clark County has spent the last two years advocating improved sex education in her school district. According to a biography provided at the rally, Morgan began volunteering for Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada during her junior year in high school. She has worked with her school’s health educators, reviewing textbooks and materials for her fellow students.
Research shows that abstinence-based sexual education, Morgan said, is detrimental to youth.
“Teachers in our state are not held to one set of standards for sex education,” Morgan said. “So student sex education becomes a game of chance.”
After the rally, Bobzien said he first started to look at this issue two years ago.
“We sent out a survey asking various school districts what exactly they taught as far as content,” Bobzien said. “We heard there was great variability across different school districts.”
While some Nevada counties had very comprehensive education, Bobzien said, other ones were sorely lacking.
Bobzien said he embarked on this project in 2011, but that bill did not pass. Now, however, he believes the new bill will receive wider bipartisan support. He added that the new bill is going to pay more attention to healthy relationships.
Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, who attended the rally but did not speak, said afterward that he got involved with this issue after seeing a connection between sexual education and healthy relationships.
“When we are looking at healthy relationships and the kind of violence that goes on even with our kids,” Sprinkle said. “Dating violence alone – it’s a problem. And the inability for people who have the knowledge and resources to get to our kids and really teach them what a healthy relationship looks like. That’s what needs to be addressed. So I’m really excited about this bill because it does just that.”
Bobzien said he hopes a bill will be introduced in the next few days.