When Texas lawmakers have considered legislation promoting comprehensive, evidence-based sex education, religious-right groups have shamefully screamed that such classes will promote “recreational gay sex” and “drug-based sex education.” Unfortunately, those deeply dishonest arguments have been enough — so far — to scare legislators away from making responsible changes to sex education policies in a state with one of the highest teen birthrates in the country.

But a report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund last year showed that more and more local school districts are moving away from failed abstinence-only programs. Instead, those districts are adopting evidence-based, abstinence-plus programs that teach students about contraception and disease prevention as well as the importance of abstaining from sex. A Houston Chronicle article this week looked at Houston-area school districts making the change to one such program developed by the University of Texas Prevention Research Center.

So what are we hearing from religious-right groups? More lies. Here’s a tweet from the lobbyist for Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family:

He writes about one school district moving away from abstinence-only programs: “Cy-Fair under fire 4 sex ed class teaching… Read More

Check out how Liberty Institute — the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family — is describing State Board of Education member George Clayton. Clayton, a Republican from the Dallas area, lost his re-election bid Tuesday in the GOP primary. The sneering contempt is almost palpable:

In the North Texas area, incumbent SBOE member George Clayton finally got around to being transparent about his sexual orientation, admitting his homosexuality but not until after he was elected in 2010 and in office as a Republican. Clayton was only able to garner 23% of the votes in his re-election bid.  So 77% of the voters said “no” to an incumbent moderate Republican running for the State Board of Education.

“Admitting his homosexuality”? He makes it sound as if Clayton had acknowledged a crime. Of course, the fanatics at Liberty Institute believe being gay should be a crime — the group’s president, Kelly Shackelford, has been a supporter of sodomy laws that criminalize private and consensual sexual relationships between same-sex partners. (When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Texas sodomy law in 2003, Shackelford shrieked: “There is no constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.… Read More

President Obama’s declaration Wednesday that he supports marriage equality for same-sex couples has religious-righters practically foaming at the mouth. Here are just a few of the comments from right-wing extremists in Texas.

Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council says the president is an enemy of God:

“When marriage is everything, marriage is nothing. Obama and his radical allies of the sexual diversity agenda cannot redefine marriage, they can only undefine it and destroy it. Our prayer and commitment is that the people of this nation will continue to make it clear that we will not allow enemies of God and His design of marriage and family to destroy it on our watch. President Obama today not only came out against marriage, he came out against God.”

Steve Riggle, a Welch ally and senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Houston, went for a two-fer — attacking President Obama as well as Houston Mayor Annise Parker (already one of Riggle’s favorite targets):

“In November, the people need to speak once again, overwhelmingly, and tell President Obama by not giving him another term that we want our leader to believe in and support traditional… Read More

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott raised eyebrows last month when he and State Board of Education members engaged in a discussion of the intense focus on testing students. Scott, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry, called the overemphasis on testing at the state and local level a “perversion” of what accountability proponents had intended.

You might be surprised to know that religious-right groups also haven’t been big fans of state standardized tests. But over-testing hasn’t been their concern. We found in our files a Dallas Morning News article from March 5, 1996, (“Criticism about TAAS puzzles some officials,” no link) about opposition to the state’s standardized test at the time. Here’s an excerpt:

Kelly Shackelford of the Rutherford Institute says many of his clients think the tests are really a tool for “liberal, educratic elitists” who want to monitor students’ values and undercut their religious beliefs.

For example, in 1992 a state-administered test used a reading passage and graphs on the number of followers of different religions around the world. The parents complained that the question was designed to make all religions look equal, therefore undermining their children’s Christian beliefs.

They are also concerned that the… Read More

The hypocrisy is pretty clear to see.

Last week religious-right groups expressed outrage that the Austin City Council passed an ordinance requiring so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to post signs telling visitors if they have no licensed healthcare professionals on site. Such facilities are typically not medical clinics and exist primarily to persuade pregnant women not to have an abortion. The ordinance would let a pregnant woman know upfront that she will not receive medical care at the facility.

But such a requirement is government-mandated speech, religious-right groups say, and thus a violation of the First Amendment. Samuel B. Casey of the Law of Life Project said the First Amendment protects the right of free speech as well as the right not to speak:

The government cannot “make a private citizen speak the government’s message. It doesn’t matter what the message is. What matters is that it’s the government’s message.”

Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, similarly charged that the new Austin ordinance suffers from the same legal defects it claimed in an earlier, broader ordinance that the City Council repealed. The group said it opposes measures “requiring pregnancy centers, under… Read More