Common Sense on Sex Education

by Dan Quinn

Texans have plenty of it. Common sense, that is. Not, unfortunately, sex education.

The results of the TFN Education Fund’s statewide survey we released yesterday showed that 80 percent of likely voters in Texas agree that high school classes on sex education should teach “about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence.” Yet last year’s comprehensive TFNEF report revealed that more than 9 in 10 public school districts in Texas teach abstinence-only or nothing at all about sex education. And that’s in a state with one of the nation’s highest teen birth rates (and the state with the highest rate of multiple births to teens).

Texans clearly understand that keeping young people ignorant is a foolish and dangerous approach to sex education. And the results of our statewide survey shows that support for comprehensive, medically accurate and evidence-based sex education is strong regardless of political beliefs, religious affiliation, education and race. Some details:

  • 77 percent of Protestants, 82 percent of Roman Catholics and 70 percent of people who identified themselves as “born again” Christians agree that high school classes on sex education should teach “about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence.”
  • 97 percent of self-identified liberals, 93 percent of moderates and 63 percent of conservatives agree.
  • Among racial groups, the lowest level of support is among white Texans, and that number is still 78 percent.
  • Differences by educational level were almost nonexistent, with overwhelming support (either 79 percent of 80 percent) from respondents who had only a high school education (or less) or had gone to college and/or graduate school.

So we know Texans want young people to learn information about sexuality and health that will help them make important life decisions. It’s time to insist that lawmakers change the state’s ignorance-first policies on sex education. You can help by contacting your local legislators and asking them to support legislation next year that requires public schools to teach medically accurate, evidence-based information — including age-appropriate information about condoms and other forms of contraception and disease prevention — in sex education classes. You can also sign the Education Works! petition for comprehensive sex education here.