Public Hearing: It’s Time to Teach the Truth on Sex Education in Texas

by Dan Quinn

More than 260 people signed up to testify at a public hearing today as the State Board of Education considers an overhaul of health education standards — including standards on sex education — for Texas public schools. Check out our press release.

Texans Testify in Support of Sex Ed as State Board of Education Considers Health Standards Overhaul

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2020

As the Texas State Board of Education considers its overhaul of health curriculum standards for the first time in more than two decades, scores of testifiers at a public hearing today urged board members to ensure the new standards move beyond focusing just on abstinence in a state where 60 percent of high school seniors say they’ve already been sexually active.

Jules Mandel, outreach and advocacy coordinator for the Texas Freedom Network, praised the addition of information on contraception and the importance of informed consent in proposed draft standards. But she warned that the drafts so far fail to address sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We are deeply concerned that these standards don’t even acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ students in the classroom,” Mandel said. “Parents and caregivers want their children to have honest information and feel safe, welcome, and acknowledged at school. Teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression promotes respect for others, helps all students understand themselves and the people around them, and helps to reduce bullying, discrimination, and harassment. We urge the board to ensure that the new standards address both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

The state board last revised the Texas health curriculum standards in 1997 and adopted abstinence-only health textbooks in 2004. Currently, more than 80 percent of school districts teach abstinence-only or nothing at all on sex education, yet teen birth and pregnancy rates have consistently ranked among the highest in the nation. Moreover, most school districts ignore sexual orientation and gender identity and expression altogether, and many abstinence-only curricula do a poor job covering informed consent and sexual violence prevention.

More than 260 people signed up to speak during the first public hearing on the health standards overhaul, the majority speaking in favor of including standards on these topics as well as the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion. The board is scheduled to hold a second public hearing in September and to take a final vote on the standards in November. The standards will guide instruction and textbook content in K-12 health classrooms.

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The Texas Freedom Network is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans who support social justice, including strong public schools.

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