Monday, July 13, 2009

Sex Ed In Collin County Schools - Part 2

Texas Textbooks Not Mandated To Teach
This is Part 2 of a 5 part series on the state of sexuality health education in Collin County based on the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund study, “Just Say Don’t kNOw” by Dr. David Wiley, Dr. Kelly Wilson and Ryan Valentine. A copy of the study can be found online at The series is researched and written by Linda Magid.

In Part 1 of our series, we gave an overview of the state of sex education in Texas: statewide students are either misinformed or learn nothing at all about how to protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy beyond abstinence. In Part 2, we will look at how the Texas Education Code deals with sexuality health and what is and isn’t covered in the state textbooks and supplemental programs.

Students Learn Little to Nothing about Human Sexuality

Texas Education Code mandates that sexuality instruction must be part of public school curriculum and that abstinence be taught as the preferred choice of sexual behavior (“Just Say Don’t kNOw,” Wiley, Wilson and Valentine, pg. 5).

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) states that students “should be able to ‘analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods including the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), keeping in mind the effectiveness of remaining abstinent until marriage.’” (Wiley, et al., pg. 7).

Given students might be tested on this information, you might be surprised to learn that 4 of 5 Texas textbooks do not mention the word ‘condom’ ever. (Wiley, et al., pg. 8) The one textbook that mention condoms does so only one time. The four North Texas ISDs covered in this article use the textbooks silent about barrier protection from pregnancy and STDs.
  • Glencoe/McGraw-Hill: Health
  • Glencoe/McGraw-Hill: Health and Wellness (McKinney, Frisco, Allen)
  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Lifetime Health (Plano, Frisco, Allen)
  • Thomson/Delmar Learning: Essentials of Health and Wellness
  • *Harcourt: Harcourt Health and Fitness (used only by Frisco, not recognized by the TFN report as an approved textbook statewide).
According to the report, publishers self-censored the health education textbooks to avoid political battles in 2004. Rather than place condom information in the textbook, they included more in-depth information in the teacher’s edition and student supplements. However, few districts use these materials.

McKinney ISD is the only district of the four that use any publisher-written supplemental information - Glencoe Teen Health Course 1 and Workbook, Glencoe Teen Health Course 2 and Workbook, Glencoe Teen Health Course 3 and Workbook. According to the Glencoe website, these books are a “combination of course material and interactive multimedia resources” for middle school students, offering “instruction in the 10 health skills.”

Based on an interactive website presentation, it could not be determined if the materials mention sexual health at all.

Texas textbook publishers realize that they need to give students some kind of protection instruction and choose a non-offensive, and unhelpful, tack.
For example, Lifetime Health published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston (used by Plano, Frisco and Allen ISDs) attempts to address protection by substituting scientific information with behavioral modification.

The textbook offers “8 Steps to Protect Yourself from STDs” with steps like choosing good friends, developing appropriate decision-making skills and “getting plenty of rest.” None of the steps include using barrier protection. (Wiley, et al., pg. 9)
Are the textbooks used in our county’s school districts to teach abstinence-only information adequately preparing our students for impending adulthood? Do abstinence-only supplemental programs give our teens any support?

According to The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), abstinence-only programs “rarely provide information on even the most basic topics in human sexuality such as puberty, reproductive anatomy and sexual health.” (Wiley, et al., pg. 7)

Plano, McKinney, Allen and Frisco ISDs supplement their sexuality education with abstinence-only programs, and few of those programs cover essential health issues adequately or in depth.
For example, Aim for Success (McKinney, Allen and Frisco) offers no information on basic anatomy and physiology, puberty, menstrual cycles or any other basic sexuality education information. Worth the Wait (Frisco) includes some basic components of sexuality education but discusses only the negatives of birth control and only mentions STD testing.
According to a 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, over 50% of male and female high school students “reported having engaged in sexual intercourse at least once.” (Wiley, et al., pg. 8) With half the teens in Texas choosing to have sex, withholding vital health information from them based on political fear is reprehensible at best and dangerous at worst.

Specifically in our four largest ISDs, more research needs to be done to determine if they are avoiding both basic reproductive health information as well as medically accurate STD and pregnancy protection instruction.

Next in the series: Part 3 - “Condoms Don’t Work” and Other Misinformation.

The Texas Democratic Women of Collin Co. Will Host Guest Speaker Kathy Miller, Pres. Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, At The Group's Meeting On Monday, July 27, 2009. Ms. Miller will talk about the Education Fund's year-long study on sexuality health education in Texas public schools. See the "Calendar Box" in the left sidebar of this blog for more details.

No comments:

Post a Comment