Officials from a Florida chapter of Planned Parenthood are worried that the organization may no longer teach sex education in St. Lucie County — after nine years of doing just that.

Since 2002, Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast has provided sex education programs in St. Lucie. Every year, the group receives a grant from the Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County. This year, though, the council put the group’s $485,000 grant out for a bid.

According to TCPalm, Planned Parenthood blames a group of anti-abortion rights activists and the recent political atmosphere targeting Planned Parenthood for the sudden change.

This situation is not unique to St. Lucie county, though. Planned Parenthood has been the target of anti-abortion activists and abstinence-only education advocates in Florida for a while.

In the 1990s, Manatee County ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood. The group was no longer invited to teach sex education to high school students in the county. Instead, the Christian nonprofit Care Net of Manasota has been invited to speak to students in the past several years. Even though Manatee County recently changed its abstinence-only sex education program to a comprehensive program, Planned Parenthood remains excluded from the schools and Care Net continues to be part of the new program.

Nan Gould, a sex education specialist with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, told The Florida Independent that comprehensive sex education is the group’s expertise. Groups such as Care Net of Manasota, however, teach strictly about abstinence.

Both state and federal funds are allocated each year to groups that teach abstinence education in the state of Florida. Florida has a statute that requires school board districts to “teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students.” However, the statute is interpreted differently by every school board. Some school districts see latitude for comprehensive sex education, while others claim the law is a mandate for abstinence-only education.

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