Sex education in Mississippi still has a long way to go.
Parent Marie Barnard, who works in public health, recently told the Los Angeles Times that students in her sons' school were instructed to unwrap a Peppermint Pattie chocolate, pass it around and take note of how it soiled. Barnard said the lesson was designed “to show that a girl is no longer clean or valuable after she's had sex -- that she's been used.”
A representative for the Mississippi Department of Education was not immediately available for comment.
The Times reports that although sex education is now required in the state, school districts are allowed to choose between teaching abstinence-only programs or abstinence-plus programs, which touch on contraception. The outlet calculated that of the state's "151 school districts and four special schools, 81 chose abstinence-only and 71 chose abstinence-plus; some districts did a combination of the two."
In 2011, Mississippi passed a bill that required sex education be taught in schools. Educators starting implementing the lessons in the 2012-2013 school year.
According to a report from The Guttmacher Institute, Mississippi does not require sex education be culturally appropriate or unbiased. Additionally, parents are allowed to opt their children out of sex education.
The state currently has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.
Unfortunately, lessons that compare non-virgins to dirty or used objects have been used in other states.
In November, worksheets obtained from a sex education course in Texas showed that teachers were instructed to “encourage students to stay like a new toothbrush, wrapped and unused.” Additionally, the worksheet said that, “people want to marry a virgin, just like they want a virgin toothbrush or stick of gum.”
The Guttmacher Institute notes that only 22 states in the country require that sex education be taught in schools. When sex education is taught, only 18 states require lessons include information about contraception.
UPDATE: April 6 -- The superintendent of the district accused of using the Peppermint Pattie analogy in the Los Angeles Times article told Mississippi outlet The Clarion-Ledger that the original story was misleading.
“The curriculum mentioned in the L.A. Times article was part of the initial and only state-approved pilot three years ago,” Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey told The Clarion-Ledger. “We have been teaching an entirely different curriculum in our classrooms in the last two years."