Monday, August 23, 2010

Sisyphean Progress: 2 Texas Districts to Dump Abstinence-Only This Year

Two central Texas school districts (neither one of which contains Austin) are dumping abstinence-only education this year. For those of you not from Texas, you might not realize what sex education is like in many districts. Here is a brief refresher:

No, really! The text in the video above is taken verbatim from the "public school" version of Pam Stenzel's popular talk, "Sex Still Has a Price Tag." If you're a glutton for punishment, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. Texas is, and has been, the #1 recipient of federal funding for abstinence education. And no, abstinence education doesn't work. Texas doesn't have its sterling reputation for teen pregnancy, teen birth, repeat teen birth, and STI rates for naught.

But things are looking up! As reported by KUT this morning, San Marcos and Dripping Springs Independent School Districts (ISDs) have decided to implement Big Decisions, a medically accurate sex education curriculum that....drumroll please....teaches about contraception and condoms!

If you have a hard time imagining what a sex education class that doesn't teach about birth control and condoms would spend its time on, you're not alone. Mostly, the programs in use in Texas go out of their way to present wildly inflated information about the consequences of STIs (cancer! death! social banishment! suicide!!!), vague lessons on self-esteem (e.g., sluts who have sex don't have it), and a little bit of anti-gay propaganda (gay = suicide) just for good measure. Basically, if you're not straight and married, sex is GONNA KILL YOU (and you would deserve it, you dirty slut/fag). So any change is good.

But Austin ISD, which we reported earlier this year had 375 pregnant students in case management by the middle of the year, is changing, sortof. They plan to implement a program that teaches about STI prevention and birth control, but they won't do any condom demonstration or distribution. Why not?
“We don’t distribute and we don’t demonstrate,” [AISD Health Education Coordinator Tracy] Lunoff said. “We don’t talk about how students should put on a condom, and we don’t demonstrate that, certainly. Personally, I think that should be a parent or a doctor demonstrating that. That is not the role of the school district.”
Tell that to your 375 pregnant girls, Tracy.

But still! This is progress. Let's celebrate the small successes.

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