We reported some good news last week about sex education in Texas: various evidence-based, sex education programs in Texas are getting a total of more than $7.4 million in new federal grants. But there was bad news as well: Texas also got $5.4 million for abstinence-only programs that refuse to teach medically accurate information about condoms and other forms of responsible pregnancy and disease protection. Even worse: the Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Department of State Health Services decided not even to apply for $4.4 million in additional federal money that would have paid for programs that teach students about both abstinence and contraception.
A spokeswoman for the department said the decision was made after consultation with Gov. Rick Perry’s office. Regarding the $5.4 million in federal abstinence-only funding that the state sought (and will receive), the same spokeswoman said the state’s “first choice is that teens choose not to have sex.”
Well, that’s just swell, but too many teens clearly are skipping that choice. Texas has one of the high teen birth rates in the nation. We think a better “first choice” is to help ensure that teens have the information they need to protect their health and make important life decisions. But under the Perry administration, Texas is saddled with an “ignorance-only” approach to teaching young people about sexuality and health.
You can help change that in your local community. Learn how you can join a local School Health Advisory Council and promote evidence-based, responsible sex education where you live.