Texas Education Commissioner Mark Morath recently recommended some positive changes for Texas's sex ed curriculum—but they don't go far enough. In fact, they leave many of the state's abstinence-only approaches in place.
Texas has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States.
23 percent of Texas high school students report they used no form of contraception before their most recent sexual intercourse.
Texas has the fourth highest rate of syphilis infection in the United States.
These statistics come as no surprise to those who have researched the efficacy of abstinence-only sex ed. The data show that abstinence-only approaches not only are ineffective at preventing teen pregnancy, but they actually may be making the problem worse.
It's time for the Texas Board of Education to move beyond this antiquated approach and provide its students with the evidence-based, comprehensive sex ed all young people deserve.
Morath has recommended to the Board of Education that the state include discussions about teen dating violence and sexual harassment starting in seventh grade and age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education as early as kindergarten. Morath also acknowledges that schools have an important role to play in teaching students about reproductive and sexual health, a refreshing position in a state where parental control over sex ed has been sacrosanct.
But these recommendations aren't enough to move Texas where it needs to be on sex ed.
Morath failed to address Texas policies that condone medically inaccurate information and religious promotion and actively require negative discussion of sexual orientation. These policies put Texas's most vulnerable students at greater risk, and they must change.
Tell the Texas Board of Education they must not only implement Morath's recommendations but move beyond them to implement a truly evidence-based, comprehensive, inclusive sex ed curriculum that provides ALL students with the tools they need for healthy sexual and emotional relationships.