THE DAILY REPORT
OPINION | Abstinence-Only Sex Education Fails Teens, Texas Rep. Says in Opinion Piece
[April 14, 2009]
The abstinence-only approach to sex education currently used in Texas schools and other states across the country "isn't working," Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), vice chair of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, writes in a San Antonio Express-News
opinion piece. Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the nation -- 50% higher than the national average -- he notes, adding that increases across all "races and ethnicities ... demonstrate that the current lack of sexual health curriculum in our schools is seriously harming all of our children." Texas taxpayers spent $1 billion on teenage pregnancies and an estimated $15.1 billion over a 13-year period, according to a 2004 study by the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
, Castro writes.
"Despite these costs, 94% of students in Texas receive abstinence-only sexual education and, to date, more than $1 billion in federal funding has been spent on abstinence-only education," he adds. Texas ranks No. 1 in the amount of federal funding for "abstinence-only education dollars in the country -- more than $18 million" -- he writes. According to Castro, teens "need to know that we want them to stay in school and graduate, foster healthy communication with their peers and their parents, cultivate healthy living skills such as goal-setting and responsible decision-making about sexual health, and to leave parenting to later in life when they are emotionally and financially prepared." He adds that the Education Works Act (H.B 741
) "will ensure that teens learn about abstinence, healthy relationships and appropriate birth control methods so that they can protect themselves from an unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted [infections] when they do become sexually active -- whether that is at age 16, 18 or 25."
A comprehensive sex education curriculum that gives medically accurate information to teens is needed because "[w]e can't continue failing teens by keeping important and lifesaving information about contraception from them," Castro writes. He concludes that "a curriculum based solely on abstinence and birth control failure rates isn't keeping Texas teens from becoming sexually active nor does it help avoid pregnancies or" STIs, adding that it "only makes it more difficult for teens to make healthy and informed life choices" (Castro, San Antonio Express-News
The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women’s health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
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