Mississippi Sex Ed Teaches That Being Gay Is Illegal, Because, Well, It's Mississippi

The Mississippi state flag, which features the Confederate flag, hangs as protestors gathered for a sit in, demanding its removal during a protest at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Patrick T. Fallon (Photo credit should read PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

Mississippi should probably update its textbooks: According to a recent article at The New Republic, sex education classes in Mississippi teach students that same-sex sexual acts are illegal. However, in the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence vs. Texas, six out of nine justices ruled that same-sex couples in America had the "full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government," putting an end to Texas' "homosexual conduct" law in the process. So while several states, including Mississippi, still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, they aren't enforceable at all. 

We have to wonder, then, why Mississippi's sex education classes decided to leave out this big piece of information. And by taking a look at the history and content of sex education in Mississippi, we can figure out why. 

Sex education classes have been mandated in the state since 2012, and yet the curriculums appear to have many shortcomings. The Jackson Public School District, for example, adopted an "abstinence-plus" sex education curriculum. The curriculum prevents teachers from talking about abortion, and having demonstrations or instructions on condom use (although teachers can discuss contraceptives more generally, as well as STI transmission). It also requires that boys and girls be placed in separate rooms during the instruction. And, as the name "abstinence-plus" suggests, the curriculum emphasizes abstinence as the best policy, including abstinence before marriage. 

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Given this, we're not too surprised that the abstinence-plus program also mention that teachers instruct students on "the current state law related to sexual conduct, including forcible rape, statutory rape, paternity establishment, child support and homosexual activity."

The current Mississippi state law on homosexuality reads as follows:

§ 97-29-59. Unnatural intercourse

Every person who shall be convicted of the detestable and abominable crime against nature committed with mankind or with a beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term of not more than ten years.

But, as we mentioned before, this "current state law" isn't enforceable. Furthermore, despite the fact that Mississippi requires this "sex education" (or at least "abstinence-plus" education), 12 percent of Mississippi districts still haven't done so. 

Recently, news outlets reported that one Mississippi sex-ed class compared women who had had sex to "dirty" Peppermint patties. And just one week ago, Mississippi also passed a "religious freedom" bill that essentially allowed people to refuse LGBT customers. Knowing this, Mississippi's instructions to teach the "current state law" regarding "homosexual activity" should, unfortunately, come as no surprise. 


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