Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed.)
How local politics are influencing public school programs, teen birth rates
The Central Valley is home to six of the 10 counties with the highest teen pregnancy rates in California. The same communities also have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease. But as reporter Mackenzie Mays discovered by crunching the numbers in a new series for The Fresno Bee, those statistics vary widely by ZIP code, as does access to school-based health programs and services. How does de facto school segregation factor into the programs and services available to students that have been proven to dramatically reduce teen pregnancy and encourage safer sex? Why are some local public schools ignoring a new state mandate to tell students about alternatives including abortion and “safe surrender” options for unwanted infants? And what lessons did Mays learn about data mining, getting access to students and schools, and building trust with her sources when discussing the sensitive issue of sexual activity?