4 of 5 Texas school districts teach abstinence or no sex ed at all


Highlights

Texas has the fifth-highest teenage birth rate in the country.

The state has left decisions on how to teach sex education to local school boards.

Students in more than 80 percent of public school districts in the state are being taught only about abstinence in sex education programs, or aren’t being taught sex education at all, according to a study released Tuesday by the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network.

The numbers represent a small improvement over results seen eight years ago, when 96 percent of districts taught abstinence as the preferred form of sex education, if anything was taught.

“When it comes to sex education, Texas is failing our students and their families,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said at a Capitol news conference. “We have to trust young people with the information they need to make wise decisions about their reproductive health and their future.”

Nearly 1 in every 20 girls in Texas between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth in 2014, the most recent federal data available — the fifth-highest teenage birth rate in the country.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

At the news conference, state Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, announced the filing of House Bill 1547 that would ensure students are being taught “medically accurate, age-appropriate” curricula in sex education classes.

“We say we don’t want abortion, but we’re also not providing sex education that’s actually limiting teen pregnancy,” González said. “Parents don’t have all of the information. Schools can really supplement that.”

Since 1995, the state has left decisions on how to teach sex education to local school boards, although any material or curricula must focus on abstinence.

About 6 out of 10 high school seniors have had sex at least once, despite many not receiving education about condoms and other forms of contraceptives, according to David Wiley, a Texas State University health professor who helped author the study, based on surveys of Texas’ 10 largest school districts and to a sample of 148 other districts.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

School districts across the state typically use health science courses to teach students about sex education, but that class hasn’t been a statewide requirement for graduation since 2009, although school boards can still require the class as a local graduation requirement, Texas Freedom Network members said Tuesday.

Health science is required to graduate in the Austin school district, where students are taught that abstinence is preferred over sexual activity as long as parents sign-off on the material, district spokeswoman Tiffany Young said.

In the Round Rock district, high school health students learn about abstinence as well as contraceptives, spokesman Corey Ryan said. Middle school students are also taught by teachers trained under a sexual health and wellness curriculum, although they aren’t taught about contraceptives, Ryan said.

Wiley said the focus on abstinence-only education in public schools centers around a fear educators and some in the community have with students hearing about birth control and condoms in class.

“Young people are carrying a computer in their pocket where they can easily find sexual information with two clicks of a mouse,” Miller said. “We’re not really sure why we’re all so worried about teachers giving students basic information.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Mississippi alderman charged with procuring prostitution
Mississippi alderman charged with procuring prostitution

An alderman from a north Mississippi county was arrested and charged Wednesday with procuring prostitution, police said. Ronald Wayne Hale was booked into the DeSoto County jail with a $1,000 bond, according to the sheriff's office. He was released Wednesday afternoon. Hale had no comment as he left the jail. Hale is the alderman of Ward 2 in Southaven...
California woman thwarts abduction of her children
California woman thwarts abduction of her children

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man wanted in the attempted kidnapping of two children in California on Wednesday. Deputies said a mother was with her two children in a jogging stroller in Valencia around 11 a.m. Wednesday when the man suddenly approached her from behind, KCAL reported. Investigators said the man...
Watch: North Korean guard makes dramatic defection
Watch: North Korean guard makes dramatic defection

South Korea announced on Nov. 13 that an unnamed soldier defecting from the North was rescued and taken to a hospital after he was found shot in the shoulder and elbow in the border village of Panmunjom. A dramatic video of the 24-year-old, identified only by his last name, Oh, escaping North Korea, is fascinating to watch. Officials in South Korea...
Floridians twerk for Trump during traffic jam he caused
Floridians twerk for Trump during traffic jam he caused

It’s never the wrong time to get your twerk on, according to a few Floridians. President Donald Trump and his family traveled to his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach for the Thanksgiving holiday. As with any official trip made by the First Family, the Trumps traveled from Palm Beach International Airport to the property via a motorcade...
Health care provider fires 50 employees who refused to get flu shots
Health care provider fires 50 employees who refused to get flu shots

A health care provider in Minnesota fired 50 employees because they refused to get flu shots, KBJR reported. Essentia Health had imposed a Monday deadline for employees to get flu shots or receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Since September, Essentia employees, volunteers, students and vendors had three choices: get a flu shot...
More Stories