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Posts Tagged ‘Abstinence-only Programs’

Abstinence-only sex education in the national spotlight & Texas

Posted by Texas Education on September 8, 2008

The Dallas News speaks out on the abstinence-only sex education issue, since it’s been brought out front and center by the presumptive Republican V.P. choice. Columnist Steve Blow has some very interesting points to make. I feel he has a very common sense approach to this important issue:

I agree completely that the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter shouldn’t be politicized.

But politics is one thing, and policy is another.

It seems to me we’d be foolish not to use this moment of incredible public attention to examine our policies on sex education.

Especially in Texas.

One of the first factoids I heard about Gov. Palin is that she’s a strong supporter of abstinence-only sex education.

And that made me think of a jarring news story a month or so ago about sex ed in Texas.

Abstinence-only is the only approach permitted in Texas schools. Contraception is taught only in terms of failure rates and lack of protection against disease.

The gist of the July news story was simply this:

Texas spends more on abstinence-only sex education than any other state – and has more teen sex than any other state.

I’d say that’s a situation worth discussing.

Texas spent $17 million last year on its just-say-no approach. Meanwhile, federal studies reported that 52.9 percent of Texas high school students have had sex, compared with 47.8 percent nationally.

Now, at my house, any high-schooler is going to hear an abstinence message.

But as for public policy, I’m a big believer in doing what works best. And that seems to be sex education that emphasizes abstinence but includes some basic, reliable information on contraception.

This is known as comprehensive sex education, and it’s what most experts support.

A congressional committee held hearings on the debate in April. Both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed comprehensive sex ed.

“Abstinence-only programs are not only ineffective but may cause harm by providing inadequate and inaccurate information,” Dr. Margaret Blythe testified on behalf of the nation’s pediatricians.

Marilyn Morris heads Dallas-based Aim for Success, the nation’s largest provider of abstinence-only education. Her speakers give more than 2,000 school presentations a year.

She believes students interpret contraception instruction as a go-ahead for sex.

“We don’t think it’s OK for teenagers to be having sex, and we don’t want to give them that nod of approval,” she said.

For the record, I sure don’t favor schools passing out condoms or lining the halls with safe-sex posters. That does become tacit approval.

But if the research shows that the comprehensive approach works best, I think Texans should be paying attention.

Let’s also turn, however, to Bill Albert for a dose of reality. He’s with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

He laughs at the debate over abstinence-only vs. comprehensive sex ed. “It’s like we’re arguing over which road to take, and the kids aren’t even in the car,” he said.

He supports sex education in schools but says none of it changes kids’ behavior much. They have way too many other influences in their lives.

But among those, he said, the one thing affecting sexual decisions most is parents.

The research is clear. Teens do best when parents talk to them openly about sex and make their expectations clear.

A lot of parents would probably prefer to just wave the flag for abstinence-only classes.

But Mr. Albert doesn’t let us off the hook that easy.

“Be a parent,” he said. “Have a point of view and don’t be shy about sharing it with your kids.”

Posted in In-the-news, teaching, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The trouble with abstinence in Texas Schools

Posted by Texas Education on July 26, 2008

From statesman.com a plethora of sex education articles of the abstinence vs. comprehensive sex – ed.

Austin High School student Candice Briggins, 17, teaches life skills to teens at the Rosewood Recreation Center as part of her summer internship with Planned Parenthood. Girls need to know ‘that we have stuff we can protect ourselves with,’ Briggins says. The following video is interesting, to say the least. Here is just a sampling of the article, that I found veeerrrryyyy interesting.

Twenty-two states have rejected money from Title V — one of three abstinence education programs funded by the federal government — opting instead for a more comprehensive approach to sex education.

Yet the money keeps coming from Washington. In December, Congress voted to continue funding Community-Based Abstinence Education, which has given more than $519.6 million to public and private abstinence providers since 2001. Last year alone, Texas received $6.2 million from the program.

Another $50 million in Title V funding was scheduled to end June 30 but was extended by Congress last week.

All told, the programs have cost the federal government more than $1.1 billion since 1982, when the first funding for abstinence began, according to federal officials. Texas has spent more than any other state: almost $117 million, including $32.4 million of its own money. New York, the second biggest recipient of Title V funds, directed $13.5 million to abstinence programs in 2007, compared with Texas’ $17 million.

“We have been spending a significant amount of money for a number of years on abstinence-only programs,” said Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region. “I think you really have to question why our politicians continue to spend money on programs that are ineffective.”

A change in Texas’ policy does not appear likely. Along with Eissler, the chairman of the House committee, “the governor is comfortable with the current law and supports abstinence programs,” said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The conservatives just keep preaching and telling and the general public, students included, aren’t doing what they want them to do, so, you need to E-D-U-C-A-T-E. Bottom line. Kids are kids, adolescents are adolescents. Much better to educate, along with explaining “JUST DON’T DO IT.” And, you have done the best you can. Any kid who has the facts, has self-worth, has goals, hopefully will make the right decisions. Give them the tools they need to make informed decisions. Conservatives don’t give kids enough credit. Tell them not to, hey, I was told by a very good friend (helping me with class management,) he said, “tell a kid NOT to do something…and that’s exactly what they WILL do.” Good advice!!!

Some interesting quotes from my friend Garnet Coleman:

A number of health professional organizations, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Medical Association, urge that abstinence-only programs be abandoned for comprehensive sex education. The American Public Health Association recommends that such instruction begin in kindergarten.

The Texas education code does not require public schools to offer sex education. But if they do, it must be abstinence-focused, and instruction about contraceptives is couched in terms of how often they fail, according to language added to the code in 1995.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said he co-authored the legislation in 1995 with Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, at a time when he feared conservative state officials would abandon sex education completely. It was not meant to eliminate comprehensive sex education in Texas schools, he said.

“I think the interpretation has morphed into abstinence-only, which is not our policy,” Coleman said. “If I could fix anything, it’d be to make the law more instructive to say, ‘This is what you can teach’ ” about contraceptives.

Here are more articles from statesman.com:

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Two things that don’t work in Texas

Posted by Texas Education on July 13, 2008

First, we have the steroids fiasco, as of late. I like Rick Casey’s take on it. And I love the title Prayer: May this house be safe from politicians in July 10th’s edition of the Chronicle.

I’m reminded of a routine by the late comedian Alexander King.

He would tell the story of a friend who ended every visit to King’s house by stopping in the doorway, lowering his eyes, folding his hands and saying, “May this house be safe from tigers.”

King finally asked him what was the meaning of “this idiot prayer?”

His friend responded with a hurt look and a question.

“How long have I been saying it?”

About three years, King said.

“Three years,” the friend said. “Well — been bothered by any tigers lately?”

King came to like the prayer so much, he made it the title of his best-selling book.

The prospect of being randomly tested is about effective a deterrent as King’s friend’s prayer, and considerably less charming.

This is just a guess, but I’d bet the more effective deterrent by far is that wonderful ad produced by the Partnership for a Drug Free America and aired widely during televised sporting events, a near-perfect way of reaching the target audience.

The other thing that doesn’t work: Texas leads nation in abstinence education funding. In today’s Chronicle on-line.

Texas spent a nation-high $17 million last year for abstinence education programs that continue to stir debate about whether classes promoting virginity before marriage work in public schools.

Federal statistics in June showed that 52.9 percent of Texas students in ninth through 12th grades had sexual intercourse, compared with 47.8 nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that Texas youths are less likely to use condoms.


But the state lawmaker who co-authored the abstinence legislation in 1995 says the law was not meant to eliminate comprehensive sex education in schools. Democrat Garnet Coleman of Houston said he put up the bill at a time when he feared conservative state officials would abandon sex education completely.

“I think the interpretation has morphed into abstinence-only, which is not our policy,” Coleman said. “If I could fix anything, it’d be to make the law more instructive to say, ‘This is what you can teach'” about contraceptives.

The federal government has spent $1.1 billion on funding for abstinence programs since 1982, according to federal officials. Texas has spent more than other state — almost $117 million, including $32.4 million of its own money.

So now we know neither of these programs work. Let us not contemplate any longer on how much more to waste on these programs, quit pouring more tax payer dollars into them, and concentrate on other  programs, ie: technology, fine arts, and other more fundamentally sound programs that we know work.

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