SBOE Still Dislikes Sex
The State Board of Education held a second round of hearings on proposed health textbooks Wednesday, setting off the usual clashes between liberals and conservatives nearly 300 signed up to speak who both want to see their view of the world reflected in classrooms. Sex education is the hot topic this time around.
The writers and publishers of the four high school health textbooks up for adoption (two from Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, one from Delmar Learning, and one from Austin-based Holt Rinehart and Winston) have interpreted the state's requirement that schools provide don't-have-sex-ed ("abstinence-based health education") to mean that texts should not include any contraceptive or STD-prevention information. While the proposed books do come with supplemental booklets that get into the nitty-gritty, this leaves the door open for the same forces mobilizing to keep the condoms out of the textbooks to also keep the supplements out of the classrooms and provide an education that is not abstinence-based, but abstinence-only.
Groups hoping the SBOE will reject the books argue that they can't legally be adopted, as they don't meet statewide Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills guidelines, which require students to analyze the effectiveness of various forms of contraceptives. Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network, two groups leading the charge, also released a poll showing 90% of Texans support "age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education that includes information on abstinence, birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV." Nevertheless, after a first round of hearings in July, one of the textbook companies actually changed a list of risk factors for contracting STDs from "having unprotected sex" to "having unprotected or protected sex." The board will vote on the books in November.