Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As reported in the Dallas News

Researchers at Texas State University have found that an overwhelming majority (94%) of Texas school districts provide students with no sexual education beyond abstinence. 2% of the districts offer nothing at all, leaving a grand total of 4% of school districts in Texas teaching students about pregnancy and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. They go on to call the abstinence-only programs "shockingly poor".

Now, "shockingly poor" is not how I would describe abstinence only education only because "shockingly" implies an expectation of it not being so poor. Perhaps "obviously poor" is the phrase they where searching for.

Texas spends $18 million a year on these programs, and yes, that money is coming from your federal tax dollars. So, what do we get for all that money?

Among the key findings:

•Sex education materials regularly contain factual errors and perpetuate lies and distortions about condoms and STDs.

•Most school districts do not receive consistent local input from their school health advisory councils – including parents – about sex education.

•Shaming and fear-based instruction are standard means of teaching students about sexuality in many schools.

•Instruction on human sexuality often promotes stereotypes and biases based on gender and sexual orientation.

•Some classrooms mix religious instruction and Bible study in sex education programs. Such policies could violate the U.S. constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion in public schools.

Jonathan Saenz of the Free Market Foundation seems not to like empirical science. He questions the criticism of the program and is quoted in the article as saying "The reality is that abstinence works. If two people decide not to have sex, that is sex education that works 100 percent of the time."

Mr. Saenz, let me break it down for you. Nobody is questioning the effectiveness of abstinence itself. People are questioning (and rightly so, although some would argue the question has already been answered) the effectiveness of abstinence-only education. The reality is spending $18 million a year to teach more students than any other state abstinence-only education has resulted in (according the a 2006 report compiled by the Guttmacher Institue)Texas having the 5th highest rate of pregnancy among 15-19 year olds and the 2nd highest rate of live births by 15-19 year olds in the country.

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