HOUSTON (FOX 26) - AUSTIN, Texas - For more than 20 years, school districts have emphasized abstinence above all else in sex education. However, soon members of the Texas Board of Education will consider whether to add new topics like “sexual risk reduction methods","healthy relationships", and “anatomy” in grades as early as kindergarten.
The recommendations are part of Education Commissioner Mike Morath’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review for health education, which included input from health experts.
“It is about time that Texas come into the 21st century,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which has pushed for revisions to the state’s sex education standards for more than two decades.
“If we teach abstinence only sex education, we're ignoring the nearly 60 percent of students who say that they are sexually active before they graduate from high school. We're ignoring LGBTQ students because our abstinence only sex education does not deal with sexual orientation or gender identity,” she added.
But, not everyone agrees that the changes should be made.
“Abstinence is risk avoidance. We don’t educate our children to drink safely or do drugs safely,” said Alice Linahan, president of Women on the Wall.
Linahan believes parents should choose how sex education is taught.
“It’s a dangerous road to go. They lose their right as parents to decide when and how their children to be taught about sex education,” she said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Texas ranks fourth in the nation for teen birth rates, with more than 30,000 pregnancies.
The state board of education is planning a final vote on the new health standards in September 2020. If they pass, they would go into effect in 2022.
More information can be found about TEKS review here.