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The Liberty Legal Institute — the legal arm of the far-right Free Market Foundation, which itself is the Texas affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family — spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year using the courts to promote the religious right’s public policy agenda. (You can read more about Liberty Legal and the Free Market Foundation in the back of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s annual State of the Religious Right reports.) Suing public school districts over alleged discrimination against Christian students has been one primary activity for the institute. The group also defended the Ector County Independent School District in the West Texas city of Odessa against a lawsuit challenging the district’s choice of a Bible class curriculum. The district settled the lawsuit earlier this year, agreeing to drop the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public School’s deeply flawed and blatantly sectarian curriuclum.

Despite its failure in Odessa, Liberty Legal Institute has decided to enter an even bigger arena. Associated Press reports that the institute is helping five Republican lawmakers in Alaska in a lawsuit challenging an investigation… Read More

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 sexually… Read More

by TFN

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

by TFN

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