It’s Time for Change — and the Truth — on Sex Education in Texas Schools

by Dan Quinn

A lot of things can change in a decade and a half, but this one hasn’t: Texas still has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation, 15 years after the State Board of Education adopted abstinence-only health textbooks for use in public schools. But now we have a chance to reverse course and ensure that Texas public schools teach the truth about sex education and give students the information they need to protect their health and their future.

This year the state board is finally moving ahead on a long-delayed overhaul of health curriculum standards — which include standards on sex education — for Texas schools. That process begins this summer, with the appointment of work groups that will draft the standards. Following the adoption of the new health standards next year, publishers will work on new health textbooks to conform to them.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is now taking applications from individuals who want to serve on the curriculum work groups. The work groups include parents, educators, business and industry representatives, and employers. The groups will meet at least once in Austin. (TEA covers travel and lodging costs.) There may be other in-person meetings as well as webinar meetings. TEA staff will provide support.

Are you interested in serving on a curriculum work group?
If you would like  TEA to consider you for a curriculum work group, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post. We will give you the information you need to apply with TEA to serve.

Time for change
In the past, religious-right pressure groups and abstinence-only activists have insisted that the state board adopt curriculum standards and health textbooks that don’t include a shred of information on condoms and other forms of birth control and disease prevention. And they have largely been successful despite the fact that more than 80 percent of eligible voters in Texas support including that information in high school sex education classes.

In-depth research from the TFN Education Fund shows that a growing percentage of the state’s school districts have been moving away from failed abstinence-only policies and toward abstinence-plus instruction that includes information on birth control. Some also, finally, have begun to include information on sexual orientation and gender identity.

TFN will be leading the fight over the next year to ensure that the state health curriculum standards reflect those changes at the local level. You will be hearing more from us on this issue in the coming months.

 

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