Battle over Texas sex-ed textbooks

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Battle over Texas sex-ed textbooks
By Simba (Simba) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:09 pm: Edit

Texas educators are debating what will be taught in new sexual education textbooks for its high school students. The 15-member Texas Board of Education is considering and will likely approve four books, all of which extol the virtues of abstinence. Three make no mention of contraceptives at all while one makes passing reference to condoms.

Critics are crying foul, saying that a lesson of abstinence alone is dangerous because it could lead to more teen pregnancies and more teens becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

The battle in Texas has national implications because the state is the second-biggest market for textbooks in the United States. Books approved by the state's school board are typically marketed nationally.

According to Centers for Disease Control figures, Texas has been among the top five states in the country for teenage pregnancies for several years.

When he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush pushed for an abstinence-based sexual education curriculum. He raised his concerns to a national level when he said in this year's State of the Union address: "We will double federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases."

entire article at:

By Texas137 (Texas137) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:15 pm: Edit

It's actually health textbooks, not sex-ed textbooks. (although it's still pretty awful that high school health textbooks omit practical info on sex ed.). One of the more ludicrous items in the approved textbook is the suggestion that a good way to avoid pregnancy is to get plenty of rest, because it's hard to make good decisions when you are tired!

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Oh Goodness, I wonder what Mass. will do with this one.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:21 pm: Edit

Mass DOE does not get involved in textbook approval. Each district, even each school, is free to select the texts it wants. Teenage pregnancy is down in MA, if my memory serves right.

This official statement is a bit old (2002, but based on data from 2000), but is still relevant:

Teen Birth Rate Hits 30 Year Low
Boston, MA - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today released a new report which shows the adolescent birth rate in Massachusetts for the year 2000 was the lowest in three decades and 47% lower than the 2000 national rate. The information was contained in Adolescent Births: A Statistical Profile, Massachusetts 2000. The report also found that the mortality rate for babies born to teen mothers is double that of babies born to women 20 years of age and older and that pregnant teens smoke at a rate two times higher than pregnant women over 20.

“Teenagers need good information to make healthy decisions,” said MDPH Commissioner Dr. Howard Koh. “The steady decrease in teen births in Massachusetts reflects our strong commitment to programs to prevent teen pregnancy and in that we are a national leader. However, despite the positive gains we’ve made , we still have our work cut out for us to assist communities still struggling to bring these rates down and to address the racial and ethnic disparities which continue to exist,” Dr. Koh added.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

Thank you Marite!

By Massdad (Massdad) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:38 pm: Edit

It's not just sex ed in Texas that leads to sad results. Plano, TX (a wealth suburb of Dallas) was famous in the 1990s for the number of narcotics related deaths among HS students. I seem to recall a dozen deaths in an 18 month period.

By Texas137 (Texas137) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:07 pm: Edit

Massdad - I think there was a rash of teen suicides in Plano around then. Could that be what you are thinking of? I don't recall them being overdoses particularly, although some of them might have been.

By Simba (Simba) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:24 pm: Edit

Since Texas has such a huge buying power, text books used by other states would also be afftected. Publishers try to keep same editions. Cuts down on the production costs.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:54 pm: Edit

Texas 137, actually, there have been waves of both. The narcotics deaths came from - I believe - unusually pure heroine. (Xiggi probably knows!) Unfortunately, some of the victims were first time users.

This is the typical head in the sand, don't ruffle any feathers type of stuff that goes on in the state of Texas. Get plenty of rest? Give me a break! Wouldn't it be nice if getting a good night's rest would protect you from ever making another bad decision? This state is still reeling from a lot of things George W implimented during his governorship, not the least of which is the TAKS exam which has become the tail wagging the dog. High schools now have to have remedial TAKS classes and are in some cases reducing AP sections to do it. The irony here being that just like TAAS, it has nothing to do with anything. Also, the state's way of recording drop out rates looked good for GWB until it was analyzed by the press and other interested parties. Many parents in our district who have tired of truancy court have signed their kids out as home schooled where there is no regulation in order to stay out of court. They can't even get them to school, will they really teach them?

I am disappointed to say the least, and as a Texan, I encourage other states to buck the system. I am amazed that Texas has been able to turn out so many able students with this kind of nonsense. However, with one starting HS week after next, I worry. I will encourage her to get plenty of rest - for her health.

P.S. In our district, it doesn't matter anyway, since sex ed is not taught at all.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 12:54 am: Edit


Nearly all of the heroin produced in Mexico is destined for U.S. distribution, and Mexico-based heroin continues to dominate the market in the western half of the United States. Evidence suggests that trafficking organizations from Mexico are attempting to produce higher purity heroin. For example, a 1997 analysis of samples of Mexican heroin distributed in Plano, Texas, revealed purity levels of 30 to 60 percent, with some samples reaching levels of more than 70 percent. Higher purity heroin has resulted in a greater number of heroin-related deaths. In Plano, a suburb of Dallas, 90 people - most young - overdosed on cheap, high-purity heroin. Twelve young people died. In New Mexico, heroin-related deaths more than doubled in the three-year period 1995-1997 (274 deaths) compared to the period 1989-1991 (131 deaths).

From this Lansing Police Report

By Browninfall (Browninfall) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 01:26 am: Edit

What problem did George W. Bush not create?

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 09:03 am: Edit

Xiggi, you've done it again! Thanks for reinforcing my memory. It's been strained lately, and I'm glad to know I'm not losing it totally.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 02:42 pm: Edit

Wow... very sad. If I'm not mistaken, most kids are not virgins upon graduating high school... why on earth would you not want them to know how to protect themselves? Grrr!

By Shennie (Shennie) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:54 pm: Edit

The other consequense of abstinence only education is that many teens now believe that oral sex isn't really sex. (And yes, we can probably thank Clinton for that as well.) But I am amazed at the number of kids who think that as long as it isn't intercourse, then it isn't sex and it must be OK. And because none of this is talked about in abstinence based programs, the kids are unaware of the fact that they can still get STDs by having oral sex.

By Texas137 (Texas137) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

I work in a medical setting where I frequently see teens with sex related problems. It's amazing what some of them believed that got them into that situation - you can't get pregnant if it's your first time, you can't get pregnant if it isn't close to your period, you can't get pregnant if you're below some age, withrawal works, it's okay to have sex for awhile and then stop and put on the condom, condoms are 100% effective, yada yada. I don't even bother to ask girls anymore if there is any possibility they might be pregnant. I had too many positive tests (and one delivery!!!) after girls swore up and down there was no way. I had one girl get all the way to the operating room for appendicitis based on her convincing story to 3 different doctors that she had never had any sexual contact and there was no chance of an STD. She ended up having unnecessary surgery which did nothing to cure her gonorrhea/PID. Now I just run the pregnancy/STD tests if there is any medical need to know. There are clearly a lot of girls in Texas who are not getting enough rest!

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit

Texas137, one of our colorguard moms runs a program in our district for all of those girls that don't get enough rest. It's the number one drop out prevention program in our isd. So sad.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Sad LOL, Tex re "lot of girls in Texas who are not getting enough rest."

There's a smidgin of truth to the advice: only recently I advised someone to never make major life-affecting decisions when hungry, tired, or horny. I added the caveat that by that standard, some people would never make any decisions. My correspondent replied, indicating knowledge of several such people in the correspondent's life.

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