From Bad To Worse: Publishers Make Reckless Changes To Proposed New Health Textbooks
Leading Publisher Glencoe Says ‘Protected Sex’ Is a High-Risk Behavior for STDs
July 28, 2004
AUSTIN Documents released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) reveal that publishers have agreed to make reckless new changes to their proposed high school health textbooks. One publisher even equates unprotected and protected sex, calling both “high-risk behaviors” for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The changes came at the insistence of state review panelists who evaluated the textbooks in June. The panelists included teachers, parents and other Texas citizens who are not experts in science, medicine or health education.
“Replacing no information about sex education in the textbooks with bad information will have dangerous consequences for Texas teenagers,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “To raise responsible, healthy adults, families need the most accurate and reliable information possible, not dangerously misleading facts.”
Glencoe/McGraw-Hill agreed to change in its Glencoe Health book a list of behaviors that place people at high risk for STDs. The passage (on page 649) had included, “Engaging in unprotected sex.” The new passage now reads, “Engaging in either unprotected or protected sex.”
“Glencoe’s change contradicts established medical research,” said Janet P. Realini, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health. Dr. Realini is also coordinator for Project WORTH, the city of San Antonio’s teen-pregnancy prevention program. “The change would also endanger teens by discouraging efforts to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and other STDs.”
Dr. Realini also said Glencoe failed to correct a part of the same passage stating that barrier protection “is not effective at all” against humanpapillomavirus (HPV). Some HPV strains can cause cervical cancer. “Condom use reduces the risk of HPV diseases such as genital warts and cervical cancer,” she said. Dr. Realini pointed out the textbook’s error at a July 14 hearing before the State Board of Education (SBOE).
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes the importance of latex condoms in preventing STDs, especially HIV: “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.” (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pubs/facts/condoms.htm)
Holt, Rinehart and Winston also made changes to its textbook, Lifetime Health. Holt added more information about the effectiveness of abstinence in preventing unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Yet Holt added nothing about the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods. The Holt and two Glencoe textbooks, Glencoe Health and Health and Wellness, still lack this basic information. The information is required by Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standard 7i.
Thomson/Delmar Learning added nine substantial references to abstinence in its textbook, Essentials of Health and Wellness. Delmar Learning also added information about the effectiveness of condoms and oral contraception.
The SBOE has scheduled a second public hearing on the textbooks for September 8. The board will vote in November to approve the textbooks for adoption or to reject them. Until that time, publishers may make additional changes to the books.