Since 2011, Sex Education is not required to be taught in Texas.

If sex education is taught in Texas, it must “present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age” and “devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior.”

In reality, 75% to 94% of Texas students are taught nothing more in sex education than to remain abstinent until they are married. If anything beyond this is taught, scare and shame tactics are typically used to enforce abstinence, such as demonizing sexually active youth, teaching that condoms offer so little protection they are a waste of time and that if one does choose to have sex they will likely die as a result.

Texas consistently ranks in the top 10 states for teen sexual activity, the top 5 states for highest teen pregnancy rate and among the bottom 5 states for condom use by sexually active teens. In short, despite all these efforts, Texas has some of the most dangerous sexual behavior among teens in the nation. These rates have remained constant over the last decade, since data began being collected.

While teen pregnancy rates have dropped over the last 25 years, the rate of decrease that has been seen in Texas is among the worst in the nation, with 39 states having greater rates of improvement than Texas.

When charted comparing the level of dedication to abstinence in state laws and policies, states with strong abstinence-until-marriage laws have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and the lowest levels of improvements in teen pregnancy rates over the past 25 years.

Peer-reviewed studies over the past decade have found that abstinence-plus sex education programs show significant decreases in sexual activity and pregnancy rates among teens. This also proves false the fear that teaching teens about contraception will encourage them to have sex.

In peer-reviewed studies of abstinence programs, positive results have been insignificant and have not been replicated beyond the original programs or upon more thorough review.

A study of Texas abstinence programs commissioned by the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2004 found “the number of adolescents who had had sexual intercourse did not change or increased after they had received abstinence only sex education.” Looking at the numbers, the increase is dramatic. After going through the abstinence-until-marriage course, there was a 20% increase among girls and 62% increase among boys having engaged in sexual activity. This is the opposite of what the programs claim to be promoting.

In a study on the causes of the declining rate of teen pregnancies in the United States, the findings shows that “14% of the change observed among 15- to 19-year-olds was attributable to a decrease in the percentage of sexually active young women and that 86% was attributable to changes in contraceptive method use.” Suggesting that contraception use is the key to lowering teen pregnancy rates.

66% of Texas parents want an abstinence-plus approach to sex education in public schools, and 64% want this education to start in middle school.

Despite the failures of abstinence-until-marriage sex education in Texas, and despite the majority of parents supporting sex education reform, Texas law makers still insist “Abstinence works.” Maybe they have a more liberal definition success than do most Texans.

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