High school and college students from across Texas told lawmakers today they want more comprehensive sex education in public schools. The 60-plus students came to the Capitol as part of the Texas Freedom Network’s youth advocacy day.
“If teens are going to make the choice to have sex, they need to have medically accurate information,” said Stan Staton, a senior at Baylor University. Under current policies, most Texas schools teach abstinence only, an approach Staton said just isn't working.
According to a report released in January 2010 by the Guttmacher Institute, a policy analysis and research organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive health, Texas has the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate and the third-highest teen birth rate in the country.
To reduce teen pregnancy, Staton said, schools need to teach something different.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D–San Antonio, told the students about a bill he has filed that would allow schools to emphasize abstinence, but would also require that they provide age-appropriate, evidence-based information about sex. Under his bill, Castro said, schools could opt out of teaching sex education and parents could pull their child out of the class.
“We tried the abstinence-only policy for quite a while, and the numbers speak for themselves. It hasn’t quite worked in Texas," Castro said.
But abstinence-only sex education has a strong supporter in Gov. Rick Perry.
“Abstinence works,” Perry told the Tribune’s Evan Smith in October 2010. “Maybe it is the way it’s being taught, or maybe it is the way it is being applied out there, but the fact of the matter is it is the best form to teach our children.”