Thousands Of Texans Join Campaign For Responsible Health Textbooks
State Board of Education to Decide Nov. 5 on Flawed New Textbooks That Include No Information on Family Planning and Prevention of STDs
November 1, 2004
AUSTIN Activists on Monday delivered to the State Board of Education thousands of postcards from concerned Texans opposing the adoption of dangerously flawed health textbooks for the state’s high schools.
The State Board of Education will decide Nov. 5 whether to approve the new textbooks. The proposed books include no information on family planning and the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases except through abstinence. The lack of this information in the textbooks is irresponsible, said Melanie Cox, parent of 17-year-old high school student, on Monday.
“Families are faced with more challenges than ever in raising healthy, responsible children,” said Cox “They need common sense, practical information on sex and health that deals with the real-life situations we face every day.”
Cox and representatives of the Protect Our Kids campaign delivered more than 5,000 postcards from Texans to the SBOE. The postcards call on SBOE members to insist that publishers add medically accurate information on family planning and disease prevention to the health textbooks.
While publishers stand to make millions of dollars on the sale of their textbooks, the stakes are also high for Texas teens, said activist Christopher White, a 12-year veteran of working with teens in pregnancy and HIV prevention.
White noted that Texas has the nation’s highest birth rate among teens ages 15-17 and 18-19. In addition, nearly half of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur among young people under the age of 24, including half of new HIV infections.
“It’s too dangerous to give our young people anything short of information that is scientifically and medically accurate,” Christopher White said. “That’s why it’s vital that health textbooks equip teens with sexuality information that is reliable, complete and age-appropriate.”
People of faith agree. In fact, 175 clergy members from across Texas have also signed on to a statement calling for the addition of such information in the new health textbooks.
“Giving our kids anything less than honest and complete information about sex and how to protect their health sacrifices youth and their families in real ways and ultimately betrays our ideals,” said Rev. Timothy Tutt of United Christian Church in Austin.
Texas schools will use the new health textbooks for nine years. The adoption of the textbooks will also have a national impact. Because Texas has the nation’s second largest textbook market, publishers often create books for this state and then also sell them to schools around the country.
The Protect Our Kids Campaign is a project of a coalition of organizations advocating for responsible health education for Texas teens.