More Texas Schools Teach Safe Sex With Abstinence
September 23, 2011
Most Texas school districts that teach sex education choose abstinence-only programs, according to a forthcoming Texas Freedom Network analysis of Texas Education Agency data. However, a growing number of schools are moving toward abstinence-plus curricula that include instruction about contraceptive methods, condoms, and safer sex.
In the conservative west Texas town of Midland, 172 pregnant girls attended district public schools last year. "These are girls as young as 13 that are pregnant, some of them are on their second pregnancies," said Tracey Dees, the district's health services supervisor, noting many students also report STDs. Eighteen months ago, the board chose to implement a new comprehensive curriculum for seventh and eighth grades.
In Harris County, nine districts have or are adopting an abstinence-plus program, said Susan Tortolero, director of University of Texas' Prevention Research Center, who developed the Midland curriculum. "It's like we're beyond this argument of abstinence, abstinence-plus," she said. "Districts want something that works."
Districts in Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Plano also have moved toward comprehensive sex education. Research shows that teaching teens about condoms and birth control delays, rather than encourages, sexual initiation, Tortolero said.
The Spring Branch Independent School District outside Houston began examining abstinence-plus programs about three years ago. After seeing a slight increase in pregnancies and reviewing behavioral trends, the district will implement the new curriculum next year, said Rebecca Fuchs, the district's director of health and fitness.
Texas had the third-highest rate of births among teens ages 15-19 in the nation, according to 2008 data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Last year, the state health department decided not to apply for federal comprehensive sex education funding. Texas remains the largest recipient of federal abstinence-only grants.
Texas Tribune (Austin)
09.16.2011; Morgan Smith
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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