National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Time to Stop Ignoring the Problem in Texas
Texas Lawmakers Must Change Abstinence-only Policies That Fail Teens, Taxpayers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2011
On the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the president of the Texas Freedom Network is calling on Texas lawmakers to stop ignoring proposed legislation addressing the state’s teen pregnancy crisis and its high costs to taxpayers.
“It could not be clearer that the abstinence-only policies common in our public schools are failing teens and families,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “Yet the Legislature this year hasn’t held even one public hearing on bills promoting responsible, evidence-based sex education that would give teens the information they need to protect themselves and make important life decisions.”
HB 1624 by state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and SB 852 by state Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, which promote evidence-based, age-appropriate sex education, have so far failed to get a committee hearing in either the Texas House or Senate.
Texas is by far the largest recipient of federal abstinence-only funding, and a 2009 report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 94 percent of the state’s school districts relied on abstinence-only instruction.
Even so, Texas has the nation’s third-highest teen birthrate in the country and the highest rate of repeat births to teens. Moreover, an analysis from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy shows that teen childbearing in Texas cost taxpayers at least $1 billion in 2004.
A May 2010 statewide poll from the TFN Education Fund showed that 80 percent of likely voters in Texas support teaching about contraception, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes.
“Parents know that ignorance won’t protect our kids and that continuing to throw our limited taxpayer dollars away on failed abstinence-only policies is absurd,” Miller said. “It’s time to refocus our approach to the teen pregnancy crisis in Texas and offer comprehensive, evidence-based sex education in our schools.”
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and civil liberties. Its websites are www.tfn.org and tfninsider.org.