Sexual Education in Texas

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In 2007-2008 a strict abstinence-only law was put into place in Texas public schools where “94 percent of Texas districts employed a strict abstinence-only message that omitted references to – or discouraged use of – condoms or other forms of contraception” (Texas Freedom Network Education Fund). This has created an unsafe environment for teens which is leading to higher teen pregnancy rates and more teens contracting STD’s. This type of teaching also uses fear tactics to frighten teens out of sex or make them feel hatred towards themselves if they do have sex.

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The Texas law of teaching abstinence isn’t keeping teens from having sex but rather creating a higher rate of STD’s and teen pregnancy. Since abstinence-only education isn’t keeping teens from having sex, it is just forcing teens into unsafe sex, teachers and administrators are fighting back against abstinence-only tactics by teaching safe sex education along with abstinence. In research done by Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, it shows that “ Just over 25 percent of districts in this sample reported using abstinence-plus sex education programs – up from just 3.6 percent of districts in 2007-08. Because there is a large body of evidence indicating that most abstinence-only programs are ineffective in changing teen sexual behavior” (Texas Freedom Network Education Fund). This is showing that abstinence-only education is not working and is just causing a greater number of teens to have unsafe sex. In states that teach abstinence-only education the rate of teen pregnancy is much higher than in the states that teach safe sex or comprehensive sexual education.

In 2015 Texas had a teen, ages 15-19, pregnancy rate of 19 out of 111, or 17.18 percent. Compared to New York, a state which teaches safe sex education, that only has a 14.6 percent teen pregnancy rate in 2015. As the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund said: “ None of the abstinence-only programs in Texas appear to be based on any documented theory or model that has been shown to reduce teen pregnancy.” Texas needs to make a change for the teen’s safety because the point of sex education is to keep our teens safe not to keep them from having sex. Texas voters aren’t too happy with the abstinence-only education either, as found in a poll commissioned by TFNEF, where 80 percent of the voters favor “teaching about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes.” Despite the overwhelming majority of Texas voters wanting safe sex education to be taught, state policy-makers ignored them keeping the abstinence-only education in effect. These laws have “been unchanged for more than 15 years, and Gov. Rick Perry continues to tout that policy (even declaring that his personal experience demonstrates that “abstinence works)” (Texas Freedom Network Education Fund).

Texas has to change if we want to see any declines in teen pregnancy or teens with STD’s. In the end, teens will still have sex even with abstinence-only teaching. Studies show that the best way to lower teen pregnancy and STD rates in teens is to teach them safe sex- with condoms and other forms of contraception- and teach abstinence as the preferred option. Knowledge is important and using fear to keep teens abstinent is not working. Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State. November 2011. Web. 28 February 2019. Office of Adolescent Health. “New York Adolescent Reproductive Health Facts.” 

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Sexual Education in Texas. (2021, Jun 07). Retrieved from