Sexual education–the only course curriculum more controversial than US History. 33 states require that students be taught about HIV/AIDS, yet only 19 states require that information be medically accurate. Texas and NEISD have their own laws and policies about educating students on sex, and it’s time to get educated.
Texas has varying accuracy requirements. SB 297, a Texas Senate bill that only advocated that health education materials must be evidence-based, died in committee. However, Tex. Health and Safety Code § 85.004 states that all HIV and AIDS health education must be “medically accurate and factually correct.” As far as what Texas requires it to be taught, several laws advocating abstinence-only education have actually been struck down. Texas does not require any sort of sexual education, it is left to the discretion of school boards to provide the service. However, if sexual education is taught, the state requires that abstinence is stressed as the only certain way to avoid pregnancy. Other forms of birth control, including condoms, the Pill and the Patch, do not need to be taught. The laws regarding sex ed are alarmingly loose and biased. Abstinence-plus education, teaching students about contraceptive options but heavily promoting abstinence, is not scientifically effective, much less abstinence-only, which the state allows. Note that the state pushes abstinence as one of the most important aspects of sexual education but does not require education on sexual violence and what defines consent.
Fortunately, NEISD has taken the initiative to provide middle and high school sexual education. In middle school, students are taken out of class for special lessons, while high schoolers must take a class called “Healthy Lifestyles” that includes sexual education in the curriculum. Sample Powerpoint presentations that accompany the course are available online. The curriculum is called the “Human Sexuality and Abstinence Education Curriculum” and uses a framework by Big Decisions, a program that considers itself to be abstinence-plus. This means that while it endorses abstinence, it also teaches other contraceptive options. One of the presentations goes over several types of preventative contraception as well as abortion, including their effectiveness. It also goes over several different types of STDs, including their symptoms and how they are specifically contracted. The program is remarkably comprehensive compared to the middle school program, which is very abstinence-based and includes speculations, such as that sex before marriage is bad for relationships.
It is important that students are aware of what is being taught to them. Texas does not regulate what is taught. Even more importantly, students need to know what their rights are as minors. For more information regarding sex laws for minors, such as age of consent, right to contraception and abortion, etc., visit http://sexetc.org/states/texas/