AUSTIN (KXAN) - A new Texas Freedom Network Education Fund study shows including teaching about contraception with abstinence has increased during the past three years.
"It's clear that more and more local school officials realize ignorance won't protect our kids," TFNEF president Kathy Miller said about the new report, 'Sex Education in Texas Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State.' "So now we're seeing the adoption of common-sense sex education policies that deal with a real public health crisis and that polling shows most parents support."
Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation, at No. 3, according to TFNEF.
The TFNEF report is based on an analysis of data collected by a Texas Education Agency survey of school districts this past spring.
With more than 1,000 school districts in the state, the analysis shows 25.4 percent of the 677 school districts responding to the survey used abstinence-plus curricula for sex education in the 2010-11 school year. Such curricula encourage teens to abstain from sex but also include medically accurate information about contraception.
A 2009 TFNEF study showed that just 3.6 percent of Texas school districts were teaching abstinence-plus sex education in the 2007-08 school year. Nearly all school districts at the time took either an abstinence-only approach or taught nothing at all about sex education.
According the Texas Department of State Health Services, a teen gets pregnant every 10 minutes in the state. Moreover, teen childbearing costs Texas taxpayers about $1.2 billion annually.
A 2010 statewide poll conducted for TFNEF by the national firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that 80 percent of likely voters in Texas support teaching about condoms and other forms of contraception along with abstinence in high school sex education classes.
"We are encouraged that local policies are beginning to catch up with public opinion," Miller said. "But the Legislature and the State Board of Education should also help school districts provide more effective, evidence-based sex education programs."
Miller called on the Legislature to require that all sex education materials taught in public schools at least be medically accurate and backed by scientific evidence showing that they are effective in helping teens adopt behaviors that protect their health and future.
The State Board of Education should also adopt new health curriculum standards that provide more robust information about contraception as well as the importance of abstaining from sex.
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