House Joins SBOE In Blocking Responsible Health Education

House Joins SBOE In Blocking Responsible Health Education

Failed Amendment Would Have Required Agencies to Track Progress of Sexual Abstinence-Only Programs
April 11, 2005

AUSTIN Legislators missed an opportunity last week to protect the health of Texas teens and practice fiscal responsibility when they failed to pass an amendment requiring state agencies to track the progress of abstinence-only sex education programs, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

“Ideology trumped common sense on this vote,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “Simply requiring state agencies to show that tax-funded programs actually work makes sense to most Texans, but clearly not to legislators determined to keep from our teenagers vital information about pregnancy and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.”

During a debate on its overall budget bill for the state, the House voted 77-67 on April 6 to reject an amendment requiring state agencies to report on the success of abstinence-only programs in lowering the rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, authored the amendment, which was accepted by the budget bill’s author and received the support of 10 Republicans and all but four Democrats who voted.

“This is about ensuring that taxpayers’ money is well spent,” Rep. Farrar said. “If we are spending a half-million dollars on these programs, we should see a reduction in teen pregnancy and STD rates. But study after study has shown that these programs don’t work.”

The vote came less than six months after the State Board of Education adopted new high school health textbooks that include no information on family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

“Making sure that our kids have the most accurate and reliable information is the best protection we have for raising safe, healthy, responsible adults,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, our kids won’t be getting this information from their abstinence-only health textbooks, and legislators have now made it clear that they don’t really care whether what our children are being taught is actually working.”