A bill to allow public school students to be surveyed anonymously on sexual issues passes a House committee. Supporters of the bill say there is currently no way to evaluate the problem in order to form a solution.
Tulane researcher Dr. Patty Kissinger says the situation among students is serious.
"We are number one for congenital syphilis, we're number two for gonorrhea, we're number three for syphilis, we're number four for chlamydia, and also number four for HIV," she explained. "We're sixth of all states in the United States for teen pregnancy."
Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom of teens contracting sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey, who opposes the bill, says you don't need a survey to know what the problem is.
"It's common sense, okay, what's wrong, okay. You already mentioned that you have the STDs, you have the birth rates. Well, why is that? Well, because they're engaging in sex," the doctor said.
Kissinger says because the issue cannot be evaluated, they cannot receive federal money for interventions. She says they want to know what sexual behaviors are going on so they can act before students contract STDs.
"Monitoring the sexually transmitted infection rates and the HIV rate is not enough. We need to know what they're doing, so we can develop and devise and use evidence based interventions to reduce this."
Students would be randomly selected to take part in the survey and would have the option to refuse to take it. But Ivey thinks asking these questions of students is inappropriate.
"I would not want my daughter to receive some form asking her, and of course she doesn't have to fill it out, I wouldn't want her to want to read the questions about do you engage in this act and whatever the form may be. Because, you know what, my daughter is sheltered. And I wouldn't want her to have to even see that form."
The bill passed the House Education Committee 7-6.