TX SBOE District 15 Candidates Talk Sex Ed

by Dan Quinn

Someone needs to educate Marty Rowley about sex education.

Speaking on Tuesday at a candidate forum with Republican primary opponent Anette Carlisle, the Texas State Board of Education District 15 candidate explained why he supports an abstinence-only policy on sex education:

“I believe if we pass out condoms at schools we’re saying, ‘Yeah, we’re teaching you about abstinence, but we know you’re not going to pay attention to it, so here’s a condom to make sure that you don’t get pregnant.'”

Good grief. The issue isn’t about passing out condoms to students. In fact, state law bars public schools from distributing condoms as part of sex education classes. But it doesn’t bar schools from teaching students medically accurate information about contraception and STD prevention. Moreover, 80 percent of likely Texas voters, according to our 2010 statewide poll, support giving high school students that information along with emphasizing the importance of abstinence in sex education classes. And evidence shows that sex education actually gets teens to wait before starting to have sex.

Yet most school districts in Texas — a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation — teach abstinence-only or nothing at all about sex education (although we’re making progress in changing that). Abstinence-only advocates like Rowley try to scare parents into believing that teachers would otherwise be handing out condoms like it’s Halloween candy.

Speaking at the same candidate forum, which was sponsored by the Amarillo Tea Party Patriots, Carlisle said she supports an “abstinence-based” approach to sex education:

“I certainly believe in opt-out for parents if they don’t want their students in there. We need to give them knowledge so they don’t become victims of bad choices.”

Rowley and Carlisle are seeking election to the state board seat currently held by Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, who is leaving the board at the end of the year. Rowley is an attorney and former church pastor. Carlisle is the Amarillo school board president.

Rowley has been touting his support from members of the state board’s far-right bloc, including current board chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, and former chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. Carlisle has a rather extensive list of endorsements, including support from current Republican board members Bob Craig and Thomas Ratliff  as well as local school board leaders and other education folks throughout West Texas.

While Rowley’s campaign website veers into areas like his anti-abortion views (an issue over which the state board has no authority at all), Carlisle’s website appears focused on education rather than “culture war” issues.

Steven Schafersman of Midland is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Click here for his campaign website.

You can learn more about all SBOE races and candidates at TFN’s election online HQ here.

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