State Board Approves Flawed Health Textbooks

State Board Approves Flawed Health Textbooks

Textbooks Lack Age-Appropriate, Accurate Information on Family Planning and Disease Prevention
November 5, 2004

AUSTIN High school students in Texas will not have access to state-mandated information on family planning and disease prevention in high school health textbooks adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE) today.

“This is a sad day for Texas teens,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “Four million teenagers will rely on these textbooks for information that is accurate and up-to-date. Instead of doing the responsible thing and providing high school students with life-saving information about sex and health, the State Board of Education has left them to fend for themselves and get information from each other and sources like the Internet and MTV.”

The SBOE voted to approve for adoption by the state’s public schools four high school health textbooks. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards for health education require that students be able to analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods as well as abstinence.

Yet only one of the four Student’s Editions approved today even briefly mentions a form of contraception or disease prevention other than abstinence. One publisher joined a second today in agreeing to revise Teacher’s Editions to include a basic listing of contraceptive methods.

“Because this basic information is not in Student’s Editions, most students will never see it,” said Peggy Romberg, chief executive officer of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas. “Families know that making sure our kids have the most accurate and reliable information is the best protection we have for raising safe, healthy, responsible adults.”

In fact, an August Texas Poll showed that 90 percent of Texans support teaching students with age-appropriate, medically accurate information on abstinence, birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, said Heather Paffe, political director of the Texas Assocation of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

“Families are faced with more challenges than ever in raising healthy, responsible children, and they need common sense, practical information on sex and health that deals with the real-life situations we face every day,” Paffe said. “Unfortunately, students and their families now will not have that information in these new health textbooks.”