Alabama Political Reporter (APR) – For the first time in at least 20 years, Alabama teens will not participate in the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the Centers for Disease Control, although it’s unclear why or who made the decision.
The YRBS tracks a number of important trends among high schoolers, including mental health issues and sexual activity.
Mental health experts consider the survey an important tool in a time when teen suicides and depression are at all-time highs.
Likewise, the anonymous survey has proven vital in tracking sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases among teens.
For some reason, however, Alabama officials earlier this year returned the CDC funding to complete the survey. Last week, state superintendent Eric Mackey, whose Alabama State Department of Education has administered the survey in odd years since at least 2003, acknowledged that the state was no longer participating in the survey.
“While school districts across the country are under fire for exposing children to radical gender ideology and dangerous sexual practices, the CDC is encouraging educators to help their ‘schools enhance LGBTQ inclusive policies, programs, and practices.’” – Texas Scorecard, CDC Promotes ‘LGBTQ Inclusivity,’ January 3, 2023
APR asked for an explanation for why the state has opted out and who made that decision. While Mackey indicated that he wasn’t involved in the decision to opt out, he did not provide APR with an answer for who made the call.
A CDC chart obtained by APR shows that Alabama officials accepted at least $100,000 annually in funding over the past six years, but in December, it returned more than $46,000 to the CDC and informed the CDC it was opting out of the cooperative agreement.
“It is unclear to us why ALSDE has decided to send YRBS funding back,” said Alabama Campaign For Adolescent Sexual Health executive director Christina Clark Okarmus.
“The loss of this information is huge. YRBS data allowed us to track how many Alabama youth were engaging in sexual behaviors, how many were using safer sex methods like condoms and birth control, and how many were tested for HIV and STIs.