Under new legislation, public schools in Illinois will no longer be allowed to teach abstinence-only sexual education classes.
Currently, Illinois public schools are allowed to teach using abstinence-only education, a curriculum that mixes the importance of abstinence while including comprehensive information on safe sex, or may refrain from teaching sex education at all. The new law, which was created in part by Sen. Linda Holmes,D-Ill., eliminates the option of teaching abstinence as the only form of sex education. Holmes noted the importance of educating teens on how to protect their sexual health in an interview with WUIS radio.
"They are going to be confronted with the issue of sex before they're 21 years old, or 25, or whenever they decide to get married."
According to the news source, parents of children in public middle or high schools in Illinois may pull their kids from the sexual education course without repercussion.
While abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases entirely, teaching it in schools in lieu of providing information on safe sex can have consequences.
According to a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 80 percent of young evangelicals - a group that is likely to have been taught abstinence - are having premarital sex.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 39.8 percent of U.S. high school students surveyed did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter. Out of the 19 million STD patients that are diagnosed annually, almost half are between the ages of 15 and 19. Without education on proper condom use, teens are at risk for STDs and unplanned pregnancies.