As Texas lawmakers consider legislation — Senate Bill 521 — that would make it harder for public schools to teach responsible sex education, we thought it was worth pointing out what Texans think. After all, this is an important issue in a state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the nation.
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s February statewide poll of registered voters makes the public’s verdict pretty clear. By a margin of 84-15 percent, registered voters support teaching high school students about birth control as well as the importance of abstinence in sex education classes. (Click on the table for a larger version.)
Support for responsible sex education is overwhelming in every major demographic category: among white and minority voters; among men and women; among Democrats, Republicans and independents; and among Protestants, Catholics, regular church-goers and “born again” Christians.
Religious-right pressure groups and abstinence-only activists make the issue controversial at the Capitol. They are determined to make it even more so by dragging sex education and public schools into the abortion wars. The Senate Education Committee’s public hearing on SB 521 made that clear.
But for most Texans, responsible… Read More
As we reported earlier this week, Senate Bill 521 was passed out of state Sen. Dan Patrick’s Education Committee and is on its way to the full Senate. While we wait for any new developments on this bill, here’s video of TFN President Kathy Miller testifying against this reckless anti-sex ed legislation earlier this month (more after the video):
There is also an interesting story in The Atlantic on sex education in Mississippi. You’ve surely heard or used the phrase “Thank God for Mississippi.” It’s what people not in Mississippi sometimes say to make themselves feel better about how poorly their state may be doing in something.
From the Atlantic story:
As it happens, these topics are my specialty as an investigative reporter, and Mississippi lured me by topping two national lists: the state is the most religious in the union and has the highest teen birth rate. So I was intrigued when House Bill 999 (HB999) — which for the first time ever requires that sex education be taught in public schools — passed the Mississippi legislature. Sex itself is a politically and religiously charged subject anywhere and in Mississippi you can… Read More
4:30 p.m., March 12, UPDATE: We just got word that HB 649 has been removed from the House State Affairs Committee’ s Wednesday meeting agenda.
The right’s war on sex education and women’s access to birth control continues at the Texas Legislature. Two key bills on those issues face important steps in the legislative process this week.
On Tuesday the Senate Education Committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 521, which would impose new state mandates on school districts that use outside entities to provide instruction on sex education. SB 521, by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, would bar anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from teaching sex education in public schools. Even more problematic is that the bill includes other bureaucratic requirements that would make it harder for school districts to offer sex education and for students to take such classes if they are offered. This is a reckless bill in any state, but especially in one with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Click here for more about the SB 521 and its Senate committee hearing earlier this month.
On Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to… Read More
Did you know that students attending private schools in Texas today face discrimination like African-American students did during the era of racial segregation? Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee, seems to think so.
Sen. Patrick was speaking at Tuesday’s Education Committee hearing on Senate Bill 573, a measure that would permit private and religious schools as well as home-schoolers to compete with public schools in the state’s University Interscholastic League (UIL):
“When you say the UIL has functioned for a hundred years, and everybody’s been happy, if you were black in this state before the civil rights movement, it didn’t function for you. And now I feel there’s discrimination against Catholics and Christians in these parochial schools. And the same testimony would have been given before this committee in the 1950s, ‘it’s going to be an unlevel playing field if we let those black players play.’ You know, traditions must be broken, people must be accepted, and no one should be discriminated in Texas, and we’re one of only four states that do not allow this this. And I really hope the coaches would remember what happened in the civil rights… Read More
Today we saw a big reason why sex education is so awful in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Polling shows that 84 percent of registered voters in Texas want high school sex education classes to teach about birth control along with the importance of abstinence. But a vocal minority of abstinence-only activists use bullying and fear-mongering to keep effective sex education out of many public schools. And today’s public hearing before the Senate Education Committee in Austin provided a case study in how those tactics work.
The committee, chaired by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, heard testimony on Senate Bill 521. That bill would, in part, bar anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from teaching sex education in public schools. That and other new requirements in the bill would make it harder for students, especially in low-income districts, to get effective sex education.
It was clear in the committee’s morning session that the bill’s supporters had decided to launch an all-out assault on sex education and on any organization — including the Texas Freedom Network — that opposes abstinence-only programs that keep students ignorant.
Anti-abortion and abstinence-only… Read More