It is past time that Texas stopped promoting ignorance when it comes to protecting the health of young people. Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is launching a new grassroots campaign to empower young Texans in advocating for responsible sex education. This new campaign will be a direct counter to the abstinence-only movement, which has recklessly but successfully ensured that the vast majority of Texas teens today remain ignorant about medically accurate information on how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
First some background: Just four years ago, far-right groups worked with religious extremists to persuade the full Texas State Board of Education to adopt new high school health textbooks that, when it comes to sexuality education, fail to include a shred of information on responsible pregnancy and disease prevention. Those textbooks focus exclusively on abstinence from sex until marriage as the only strategy for avoiding pregnancy and STDs. Yet that same year, Texas became the state with the nation’s highest teen birth rate. In fact, the nation’s teen birth rate overall is rising again, and sexually active teens suffer from high rates of… Read More
Yesterday John McCain’s presidential campaign released a new ad attacking opponent Barack Obama for supposedly wanting to teach kindergarteners about sex. The ad focuses on state legislation proposed when Obama was a member of the Illinois Senate. But as the Associated Press explains:[T]he legislation was not Obama’s, it never became law and it would have required age-appropriate information in schools. Obama has said that means warning young children about sexual predators and explaining concepts like “good touch and bad touch.”
Texas voters should be familiar with far-right attempts to smear candidates who support responsible, age-appropriate sex education. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has released two reports (here and here) that explain how the religious right has taken control of the Texas State Board of Education in part by using lurid but distorted attacks on candidates who support instruction on responsible pregnancy and disease prevention in public schools.… Read More
News that Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s unmarried, 17-year-old daughter is pregnant has once again focused attention on the debate over sex education in the United States. The religious right’s attacks against responsible sex education have been accompanied — with strong support from the Bush administration — by increased funding for programs that teach abstinence-only-until-marriage. Yet the nation’s teen birth rate is rising again, and Texas — where state law emphasizes abstinence education — has the highest teen birth rate among the 50 states.
Now a USA Today article looks at the sorry state of sex education in America:[T]here’s no systematic tracking of what U.S. schools are teaching kids about sex — and either way, there seems to be little connection between what they’re taught and their behaviors, researchers say.
“As much as we fight about sex education, we actually know very little about it in the real world,” says Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.… Read More
Weekly newspapers often do a good job covering complex topics because reporters have the time and space to research and develop their stories. The Fort Worth Weekly offers a good example this week. If you want a broad examination of the debate over new science curriculum standards and what Texas public school students should learn about evolution, this article by writer Laurie Barker James is a an excellent primer. James takes the reader through the debate and the consequences that lie ahead for Texas if religious extremists on the State Board of Education succeed in undermining instruction on evolution. The crux of the controversy: whether creationists on the state board will succeed in forcing science teachers to tell students the evolution is "just a theory" that is riddled with "weaknesses." Never mind, of course, that creationists are distorting what "theory" means in science. And don't bother trying to remind them that mainstream scientists have repeatedly debunked creationist-fabricated "weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. They don't care. Read More