Sex Education Reform

Patricia Goodson, et al., Abstinence Education Evaluation Phase 5: Technical Report (College Station, TX: Department of Health & Kinesiology–Texas A&M University, 2004), 170-172.

  • This study was commissioned by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Then, I guess, it was completely ignored.
  • I can't find the study itself, but news reports below.
  • The study shows that sexual activity was either unchanged or increased after participation in abstinence programs.
  • Texas’ 2004 evaluation included five self-selected 'abstinence education' contractors who participated in a study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University. Analysis found that there were 'no significant changes' in the percentages of students who 'pledg[ed] not to have sex until marriage.'” from analysis by another party.

Texas Teens Increased Sex After Abstinence Program,” Reuters, 2 February 2005, accessed 17 February 2005.

Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.
"We didn't see any strong indications that these programs were having an impact in the direction desired," said Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed the study.

The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

Abstinence only programs do not change sexual behavior, Texas study shows.” Janice Hopkins Tanne. BMJ.

The number of adolescents who had had sexual intercourse did not change or increased after they had received abstinence only sex education, according to the report ‘Abstinence Education Evaluation Phase 5 Technical Report' from the Texas health department.


The study comprised 451 middle school students and 277 high school students, aged between 11 and 17, who were enrolled in abstinence programs at 29 schools. They were surveyed about their sexual behavior before and after being given abstinence only instruction.

A quarter (23%) of ninth grade girls (aged about 14) reported having sex before they received abstinence education, which is below the national average. After instruction, the number having sex rose to 28%, closer to the rate for their peers in Texas.

The number of ninth grade boys reporting sexual activity was unchanged during the period before and after abstinence education, but it increased from 24% to 39% the next year.

Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Kohler PK. Department of Health Services, University of Washington.

  • “Adolescents who received comprehensive sex education were significantly less likely to report teen pregnancy than those who received no formal sex education, whereas there was no significant effect of abstinence-only education. Abstinence-only education did not reduce the likelihood of engaging in vaginal intercourse, but comprehensive sex education was marginally associated with a lower likelihood of reporting having engaged in vaginal intercourse. Neither abstinence-only nor comprehensive sex education significantly reduced the likelihood of reported STD diagnoses.”

  • “Teaching about contraception was not associated with increased risk of adolescent sexual activity or STD. Adolescents who received comprehensive sex education had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.”

Canyon ISD has recently come under fire for their sex education curriculum, which emphasizes the importance of abstaining from sex of any kind lest they become as worthless and disgusting as a used glob of Bubble Tape.

A group of parents got their hands on the lesson plans and are now protesting the district's decision to provide sex ed instruction that relies on shame instead of evidence.

Non-Virgins Are Chewed Up Gum According to Texas Sex Ed

Here is a quote from the school's sex education curriculum:

"People want to marry a virgin, just like they want a virgin toothbrush or stick of gum."

Further, "The plan suggests using a stick of gum demonstration to show the difference in 'used versus new'...."

CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009

  • Ever had sexual intercourse :

    • Texas: 51.6%; National Average: 48.2%

    • Texas Females: 49.3%; National Average: 46.8%

    • Texas Males: 53.9%; National Average: 48.5%

  • Had first sexual intercourse before age 13 years :

    • Texas: 6.1%; National Average: 5.7%

    • Texas Females: 3.1%; National Average: 3.3%

    • Texas Males: 9.1%; National Average: 7.8%

  • Had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life

    • Texas: 16.5%; National Average: 14.5%

    • Texas Females: 12.7%; National Average: 11.6%

    • Texas Males: 20.3%; National Average: 17.3% (18% higher than national average)

  • Currently sexually active

    • Texas: 37.7%; National Average: 35.4%

    • Texas Females: 38.5%; National Average: 36.2%

    • Texas Males: 36.9%; National Average: 33.4%

  • Condom use during last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 57.7%; National Average: 60.5%

    • Texas Females: 53%; National Average: 55.2%

    • Texas Males: 62.6%; National Average: 67.5%

  • Birth control pill before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 13.9%; National Average: 21.2%

    • Texas Females: 17.4%; National Average: 23.8%

    • Texas Males: 10.1%; National Average: 18.9%

  • Depo-Provera use before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 1.9%; National Average: 3.9%

    • Texas Females: 2.5%; National Average: 5.7%

    • Texas Males: 1.2%; National Average: 2.2%

  • Birth control pill use or Depo-Provera use before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 15.8%; National Average: 25.7%

    • Texas Females: 19.9%; National Average: 28.9%

    • Texas Males: 11.3%; National Average: 20.8%

  • Both a condom during last sexual intercourse and birth control pills or Depo-Provera

    • Texas: 6%; National Average: 9.5%

    • Texas Females: 8.4%; National Average: 10.7%

    • Texas Males: 3.5%; National Average: 8.5%

  • Drank alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 21.7%; National Average: 21.3%

    • Texas Females: 18.1%; National Average: 17.8%

    • Texas Males: 25.4%; National Average: 25.2%

  • Were taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection

    • Texas: 82.9%; National Average: 85.7%

CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2011

  • Ever had sexual intercourse :

    • Texas: 51.6%; National Average: 46.9%

    • Texas Females: 48.6%; National Average: 45.3%

    • Texas Males: 54.8%; National Average: 47.6%

  • Had first sexual intercourse before age 13 years :

    • Texas: 7%; National Average: 5%

    • Texas Females: 4%; National Average: 3%

    • Texas Males: 10.1%; National Average: 7.5%

  • Had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life

    • Texas: 16.7%; National Average: 13.8%

    • Texas Females: 12.9%; National Average: 11.5%

    • Texas Males: 20.7%; National Average: 15.5%

  • Currently sexually active

    • Texas: 36.2%; National Average: 33.8%

    • Texas Females: 36.8%; National Average: 35.4%

    • Texas Males: 35.6%; National Average: 33.1%

  • Condom use during last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 53.8%; National Average: 59.9%

    • Texas Females: 46.2%; National Average: 54.5%

    • Texas Males: 62%; National Average: 66%

  • Birth control pill before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 11.3%; National Average: 21.4%

    • Texas Females: 13.2%; National Average: 25.3%

    • Texas Males: 9.3%; National Average: 16.5%

  • Depo-Provera use before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 4.4%; National Average: 5.9%

    • Texas Females: 6.5%; National Average: 8.2%

    • Texas Males: 2.1%; National Average: 3.3%

  • Birth control pill use or Depo-Provera use before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 15.7%; National Average: 27.7%

    • Texas Females: 19.6%; National Average: 33.2%

    • Texas Males: 11.4%; National Average: 19.8%

  • Both a condom during last sexual intercourse and birth control pills or Depo-Provera

    • Texas: 6.4%; National Average: 10.5%

    • Texas Females: 6.4%; National Average: 12.8%

    • Texas Males: 6.3%; National Average: 8.2%

  • Didn't use any method to prevent pregnancy

    • Texas: 20%; National Average: 12.2

    • Texas Females: 24.5%; National Average: 14.1%

    • Texas Males: 15.2%; National Average: 10.6%

  • Drank alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse

    • Texas: 24.2%; National Average: 20.6%

    • Texas Females: 18.1%; National Average: 17.4%

    • Texas Males: 30.7%; National Average: 25.1%

  • Were taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection

    • Texas: 81%; National Average: 83.7%


States worse than Texas:

  • Ever had sexual intercourse : Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee (Puts Texas at 6th)

  • Had first sexual intercourse before age 13 years : Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee (Puts Texas at 10th)

  • Had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life : Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming (Puts Texas at 11th)

  • Currently sexually active : Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia (10th)

  • Condom use : Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina (Putting Texas at 4th)

  • Birth control pill use : None. Texas is in FIRST!

  • Did not use any method to prevent pregnancy : None. Texas is first again.

  • Drank alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse : Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wyoming

  • Were taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection : Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota (Putting Texas at 5th)


Change in Teen Pregnancy Rates.


  • Change in Teen Pregnancy Rate Among Girls Age 15-19, 1988-2008

    • National Average: -39%

    • Texas: -27%

    • States with lower declines: Wyoming, West Virginia, South Dakota, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Idaho (Texas is 13th worst improved in Nation)

    • Best improved: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont

Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Douglas Kirby, Ph.D. November 2007 .

  • “Teenage mothers are less likely to complete school, less likely to go to college, more likely to have large families, and more likely to be single—increasing the likelihood that they and their children will live in poverty. Negative consequences are particularly severe for younger mothers and their children. ”

  • “Children of teenage mothers are likely to have less supportive and stimulating home environments, lower cognitive development, less education, more behavior problems, and higher rates of both incarceration (for boys) and adolescent childbearing. ”

  • “Young people age 15 to 24 account for one- quarter of the sexually active population in the United States but nearly one-half of all new cases of STDs. Nearly 4 million new cases occur each year among teens. As a result, about one-third of all sexually active young people become infected with an STD by age 24. ”

  • “Although sex education programs fall along a continuum, they can be divided into abstinence programs, which encourage and expect young people to remain abstinent, and comprehensive programs, which encourage abstinence as the safest choice but also encourage young people who are having sex to always use condoms or other measures of contraception.

    “At present, there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners. In addition, there is strong evidence from multiple randomized trials demonstrating that some abstinence programs chosen for evaluation because they were believed to be promising actually had no impact on teen sexual behavior. That is, they did not delay the initiation of sex, increase the return to abstinence or decrease the number of sexual partners. At the same time, they did not have a negative impact on the use of condoms or other contraceptives.

    “Two less rigorous studies suggest that abstinence programs may have some positive effects on sexual behavior. One program appeared to delay the initiation of sex among middle school students and to decrease current sexual activity, but these positive results were not replicated in a stronger, more rigorous study. A second program appeared to decrease the frequency of sex and reduce the number of sexual partners.

    “Many of the abstinence programs improved teens’ values about abstinence or their intentions to abstain, but these improvements did not always endure and often did not translate into changes in behavior.

    “Even though there does not exist strong evidence that any particular abstinence program is effective at delaying sex or reducing sexual behavior, one should not conclude that all abstinence programs are ineffective. After all, programs are diverse, fewer than 10 rigorous studies of these programs have been carried out, and studies of two programs have provided modestly encouraging results.

    “In sum, studies of abstinence programs have not produced sufficient evidence to justify their widespread dissemination. Instead, efforts should be directed toward carefully developing and evaluating these programs. Only when strong evidence demonstrates that particular programs are effective should they be disseminated more widely. ”

  • “Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavioral effects. Specifically, over 40 percent of the programs delayed the initiation of sex, reduced the number of sexual partners, and increased condom or contraceptive use; almost 30 percent reduced the frequency of sex (including a return to abstinence); and more than 60 percent reduced unprotected sex. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of the programs had positive effects on more than one of these behaviors. For example, some programs both delayed the initiation of sex and increased condom or other contraceptive use.

    “No comprehensive program hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex, results that many people fear. Emphasizing both abstinence and protection for those who do have sex is a realistic, effective approach that does not appear to confuse young people.

    “Comprehensive programs worked for both genders, for all major ethnic groups, for sexually inexperienced and experienced teens, in different settings, and in different communities. Programs may be especially likely to be effective in communities where teen pregnancy or STD and HIV are salient issues and may be less effective where these issues are not. Some programs’ positive impact lasted for several years.

    “Virtually all of the comprehensive programs also had a positive impact on one or more factors affecting behavior. In particular, they improved factors such as knowledge about risks and consequences of pregnancy and STD; values and attitudes about having sex and using condoms or contraception; perception of peer norms about sex and contraception; confidence in the ability to say “no” to unwanted sex, to insist on using condoms or contraception, or to actually use condoms or contraception; intention to avoid sex or use contraception; and communication with parents or other adults about these topics. In part by improving these factors, the programs changed behavior in desired directions.

    “An important question is whether a program’s positive results in one study can be replicated in other communities by other educators and research teams. When three programs were replicated with fidelity in different locations throughout the United States, but in the same type of setting, the original positive effects were confirmed. This is very encouraging and suggests that effective programs can remain effective when they are implemented with fidelity by other people in other communities with similar groups of young people. However, when programs were substantially shortened, when activities related to a particular behavior (e.g., use of condoms) were deleted, or when the programs were implemented in different settings, the original positive results were not replicated. ”

  • “Parents and teenagers have remarkably few conversations about sexual matters, often because both parents and teens feel uncomfortable discussing them together. Few parents are willing or able to participate in special programs, but studies consistently indicate that when they do, their communication with their teens and their own comfort with discussing sexual matters is enhanced. These positive effects seem to dissipate with time and under some conditions, but not all conditions may affect teen sexual behavior. ”

  • (It would seem that there is no reason that abstinence-until-marriage programs shouldn't work, it is just that there is no evidence that they do. There is, however, overwhelming evidence that comprehensive, or asbstinence-plus, programs do indeed work. While there have been individual programs of abstinence-until-marriage programs working, this success has not been replicated on a wider scale, unlike comprehensive programs.)

  • “Clinics located in or near schools are ideally situated to provide reproductive health services to students—they are conveniently located, confidential, and free; their staff are selected and trained to work with adolescents; and they can integrate education, counseling, and medical services. Some school clinics dispense or provide prescriptions for contraceptives, and substantial proportions of sexually experienced students obtain contraceptives from them.

    “According to a small number of studies of mixed quality, providing contraceptives in school-based clinics does not hasten the onset of sexual intercourse or increase its frequency. But in most schools, unless clinics focus on pregnancy or STD/HIV prevention in addition to providing contraceptives, they do not increase the overall use of contraceptives markedly or decrease the overall rates of pregnancy or childbirth. When the clinics did focus on pregnancy prevention, gave a clear message about reducing sexual risk and avoiding pregnancy, and did make contraception available, they may have increased contraceptive use, but the evidence is not strong.

    “More than 300 schools without clinics make condoms available to students through counselors, nurses, teachers, vending machines, or baskets. In general, large proportions of sexually experienced students obtain condoms from school programs, particularly when multiple brands of condoms are freely available in convenient, private locations. Students also obtain condoms from school clinics. According to a small number of studies of mixed quality, making condoms available in schools does not hasten the onset of sexual intercourse or increase its frequency. Its impact on actual use of condoms is less clear. ”

  • “Programs designed to enhance the development of young children may be beneficial for many reasons, but do those benefits extend to sexual behavior in adolescence, specifically to reducing teen childbearing? Only two very small studies have tried to answer that question, so conclusions are tentative at best. Nevertheless, results are encouraging. Teens who had been in a year-round preschool program or in a three-year elementary school program designed to involve their parents delayed childbearing by more than a year, scored higher on a number of intellectual and academic measures, and obtained more years of education than those who had not been in the program. The program’s impact on educational attainment may partially explain why participants delayed childbearing. ”

Santelli JS et al., Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: the contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use, American Journal of Public Health, 2007, 97(1):150–156.


  • Studied changes in sexual behavior, including sexual activity and use of contraceptives, etc, as compared to changes in pregnancy rates among teens.

  • “We estimated 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; the corresponding percentages among 15- to 17-year-olds were 23%. … All of the change in pregnancy risk among 18- and 19-year-olds was the result of increased contraceptive use.”

Impacts Of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs . Final Report . April 2007. Christopher Trenholm . Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

  • “T he enactment of Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 significantly increased the funding and prominence of abstinence education as an approach to promote sexual abstinence and healthy teen behavior. ”

  • “The four selected programs offered a range of implementation settings and program strategies, reflecting the array of operational experiences of the Title V, Section 510 programs operating nationwide. The programs served youth living in a mix of urban communities (Miami and Milwaukee) and rural areas (Powhatan, Virginia and Clarksdale, Mississippi). In three of these communities, the youth served were predominantly African- American or Hispanic and from poor, single-parent households. In Powhatan, youth in the programs were mostly white, non-Hispanic youth from working- and middle-class, two- parent households. ” Reasonable considering Black and Hispanic populations have a considerably higher rate of teen pregnancy than Non-Hispanic Whites.

  • These programs follow Title V, Section 510 (b)(2)(A-H) of the Social Security Act.

  • Programs were chosen to represent a wide range of teaching styles, age ranges and commitment lengths:

    • These programs were considered intense in regards to hours spent in the course, as compared to other Title V programs, with two of them meeting every day of the school year and the one voluntary program allowing attendance for up to four years.

    • Two of the programs operated in school districts with other “rich” sex education courses, while the other two were in school districts with “limited” such educational services.

    • Enrollment in these programs ranged between Grade 3 and Grade 8, with most in grades 5 through 8.

    • The four classes represent a one year, two year, three year and voluntarily up to four year classes.

  • “The survey was administered to youth … roughly four to six years after they began participating in the study. By this time, youth in the study sample had all completed their programs, in some cases several years earlier, and averaged about 16.5 years of age. ”

  • “Findings indicate that youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age. ” It is important for three of the control groups, they were participating in other forms of abstinence-only sex education, while the other one discussed abstinence and use of contraceptives.

  • The findings given are literally exactly the same across all indicators, with single digit percentage differences here and there.

  • Indicators tested: Length of abstinence after course; Use of condoms among those that had sexual intercourse; Number of sexual partners; Age of first sexual intercourse; Knowledge of STDs; Knowedge of Unprotected sex risks;

  • P-values: of program-control difference) < 0.01; p-value < 0.05; p-value < 0.10, two-tailed test.

  • Youth in the programs reported slightly higher than control groups that condoms are never effective at preventing STDs.

  • Youth in programs reported slightly higher than control groups in correctly identifying that birth control pills are not effective in preventing STDs.

  • “An analysis of teen sexual activity, presented in Chapter VI of the report, finds that friends’ support for abstinence is a significant predictor of future sexual abstinence. ” This suggests that this teaching did not teach the youth to make better decisions, but simply used peer pressure to impact behavior. “While friends’ support for abstinence may have protective benefits, maintaining this support appears difficult for most youth as they move through adolescence.” Suggesting that teaching to make good decisions is a better approach.

Rejoinder Longitudinal sex education research Methodological issues and limitations:

  • This is a response to the above Mathematica report on abstinence education by Abstinence Works.

  • They made the following complaints about the study: (Italics are ST responses)

    • “Unrealistic Follow-up Length.” Since the entire point of education is long term results, I am not sure how this is a valid response. “Well, it worked for as long as not doing it did!”

    • “Age Inappropriateness and lack of ongoing reinforcement.” Only one of the studies had youth as young as 3rd and 4th grade, and it was distributed across grades up to 8th. Even without this one group, the results remain the same. The purpose of education is to have lasting, long-term effects. If these programs do not give students the skills and knowledge needed to have lasting effectiveness, then it seems they are not successful in their goals.

    • “Low participation rates.” This refers to the volunteer program, which is the same as the one above that had youth as young as 3rd and 4th grade. Once again, even if we throw this out, the results remain the same. However, it is good to see the voluntary participation, seeing as how remaining abstinent is a voluntary act.

    • “Non-representative study sample.” The study did have a slight lean toward Black and Hispanic students. However, these are the most at-risk students for teen pregnancy, so it would make sense that the study give some extra attention to their demographic. And the demographics of the study participants were not significantly different between the program and control groups.

    • “Cross-contamination. “This complaint is that the students in the programs “intermingled” with students who were not in the program. So this complaint is basically that the study happened in the real world. Does Abstinence Works really expect us to buy that the answer is to isolate students from outside influences? This is life. If the program cannot succeed in the real world, it does not need any further consideration.

    • “Selected programs are not representative of current abstinence programs.” Possibly not. And the youth in the control groups may not have undergone sex education that is representative of sex education six years later, as well.

  • The report then calls for a new study.

"Sex education that is responsible and medically accurate, begins in kindergarten, and continues in an age-appropriate manner through the 12th grade, is necessary given the early ages at which young people are initiating intercourse — 6.2 percent of students nationwide report having sex before the age of 13, 43.8 percent by grade 10, and 63.1 percent by grade 12 (CDC, 2012) . In fact, the most successful programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy are those target ing younger adolescents who are not yet sexually experienced (Frost & Forrest, 1995).

"Sex education programs that are balanced and realistic, encourage students to postpone sex until they are older, and promote safer-sex practices among those who choose to be sexually active, have been proven effective at delaying first intercourse and increasing use of contraception among sexually active youth. These programs have not been shown to initiate early sexual activity or to increase levels of sexual activity or umbers of sexual partners among sexually active youth (Kirby, 2007; Kohler et al., 2008).

"Many sex education programs in the United States currently caution young people to not have sex until they are married (Landry et al., 1999). However, most abstinence-only programs are not effective because they fail to delay the onset of intercourse and often provide information that is medically inaccurate and potentially misleading (Kirby, 2007; Kohler et al., 2008; Lin & Santelli, 2008; Trenholm et al., 2007). Only 12 states require sexuality education that includes information about contraception. Nine other states require that if sexuality education is provided, it must include information about contraception (Guttmacher Institute, 2012c). Recent studies show that more teens receive formal sex education on “how to say no to sex” (87 percent of teen women and 81 percent of teen men) than on contraception methods (70 percent of teen women and 62 percent of teen men) (Martinez et al., 2010)."


Texas, along with Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana and Wisconsin have the follwing requirements for sex education: Sex Education is not required. If it is taught, it must stress abstinence-only and the importance of sex only within marriage. They do not teach about contraception, communicating with your family about sex or require information presented during sex education to be medically accurate.  

Sex Education in Texas Public Schools. Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. 2011.

  • A statewide poll of likely voters last summer commissioned by TFNEF revealed that 80 percent of Texas voters favor “teaching about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes.” (“Culture Wars in the Classroom: Texas Voters Call for a Cease-Fire.” Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. July 2010. )
  • Almost three-quarters of Texas districts in this sample utilize an abstinence-only approach to sex education, meaning these districts either (a) use vendor-supplied or locally developed programs that promote an exclusively abstinence-only message or (b) employ no sex education instruction beyond the state-approved health textbooks, which themselves contain no information about pregnancy or disease prevention beyond abstinence.
  • Generally, abstinence-only programs and materials either ignore contraceptive information altogether or discuss contraception only in terms of failure rates. Moreover, abstinence-only programs typically include no information on proper methods of contraceptive use and censor any information about how to access contraceptive services.
  • Other studies of abstinence-only materials have revealed a number of additional problems, including misleading or factually incorrect information about condoms and STDs, reliance on shaming and fear-based instruction, and promotion of stereotypes and bias based on gender and sexual orientation.
  • … much of this shift is a result of changes to the widely used Worth the Wait (WTW) sex education program. That program – used in just over 19 percent of Texas districts in this sample – was formerly a proud promoter of the abstinence-only philosophy. Recent changes in the program, however, incorporate a more robust discussion of contraception.
  • … the University of Texas Prevention Research Center has developed an abstinence-plus program for middle school students and rigorously tested this program in two randomized, controlled trials. It’s Your Game... Keep It Real is a classroom- and computer-based HIV, STI, and pregnancy prevention program for students in middle school. The program was developed using Intervention Mapping, a detailed process which incorporates both theoretical and empirical evidence. Evaluations of the program published in peer-reviewed literature have concluded the program successfully delays sexual initiation among participating students. The program also increases condom use and decreases the number of partners among sexually active students.11 This program is being implemented in a number of school districts in Harris County, as well as a handful of other districts around the state.
  • In recent years, however, it appears that the program has evolved to include more robust information about contraception. A WTW PowerPoint module entitled “Contraception & Teens: Providing the FACTS!” (with a copyright date of 2011) includes more than 80 slides describing a dozen of the most commonly used methods of contraception. There is even a slide that includes basic instructions (from the Centers for Disease Control) on “Correct Use” of condoms, information that is missing from abstinence-only curricula. While this contraception module is apparently provided to all districts that utilize the program, an accompanying letter from WTW addressed to presenters provides instructions on how to “hide” individual slides. (so it is impossible to say that the current state of sex education in Texas is as bright as this TFNEF report attempts to paint it.)
    • In recent years, however, it appears that the program has evolved to include more robust information about contraception. A WTW PowerPoint module entitled “Contraception & Teens: Providing the FACTS!” (with a copyright date of 2011) includes more than 80 slides describing a dozen of the most commonly used methods of contraception. There is even a slide that includes basic instructions (from the Centers for Disease Control) on “Correct Use” of condoms, information that is missing from abstinence-only curricula. While this contraception module is apparently provided to all districts that utilize the program, an accompanying letter from WTW addressed to presenters provides instructions on how to “hide” individual slides. (so it is impossible to say that the current state of sex education in Texas is as bright as this TFNEF report attempts to paint it.)

      It’s safe to say Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) doesn’t like sexual education in public schools. In a recent radio interview with WallBuilders Live, the congressman likened sex ed to the “indoctrination” seen under the Soviet Union and argued that such lessons are unnecessary because of mankind’s long history of existence without “instructions” on human sexuality.

      “Let the kids be innocent. Let them dream. Let them play. Let them enjoy their life,” he told host David Barton. “You don’t have to force this sexuality stuff into their life at such a point. It was never intended to be that way. They’ll find out soon enough.”

      He argued that humanity has done just fine without courses on sexuality: “Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody,” he said. “And now we feel like, oh gosh, people are too stupid to unless we force them to sit and listen to instructions. It’s just incredible.”

      Audio from Houston Chronicle

      Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands

      “My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they were so hot and bothered from this deal, he couldn’t even get the condom on.”

      Should we examine what is wrong here? First, without supporting evidence anecdotes are only representative of the single case, not the overall truth. Second, it should also be pointed out that this anecdote makes several assumptions: 1. That Rep. Toth remembers this story correctly; 2. That his wife told him the story correctly; 3. That his wife remembered the story correctly; 4. That these kids didn't lie to his wife because they needed an excuse for the "immorale" behaviour they engaged in, passing on the guilt to a scapegoat.

      Texas Department of State Health Services. School Health Advisory Councils.
      • A SHAC is a group of individuals representing segments of the community, appointed by the school district to serve at the district level, to provide advice to the district on coordinated school health programming and its impact on student health and learning. The SHAC will assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district's health education instruction. SHACs provide an efficient, effective structure for recommending age-appropriate, sequential health education programs, and early intervention and prevention strategies that can easily be supported by local families and community stakeholders.
      • Every independent school system is required by law to have a School District Health Advisory Council; of which the majority of members must be parents who are not employed by the school district.
      • To find out if your school district has a SHAC, who is in charge and how you can be involved or get more information, contact the district’s administrative office and schedule a time to meet with the staff person that has oversight for the SHAC.

      Culture Wars in the Classroom: Texas Voters Call for a Cease-Fire. July 13, 2010 . TFN.

      • Teaching about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex-education classes. Support: 80%; Oppose: 19%

      The Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adolescent Pregnancy, Long-Term Psychosocial Consequences, and Fetal Death. Susan D. Hillis, PhD.

      • Objectives. Few reports address the impact of cumulative exposure to childhood abuse and family dysfunction on teen pregnancy and consequences commonly attributed to teen pregnancy. Therefore, we examined whether adolescent pregnancy increased as types of adverse childhood experiences (ACE score) increased and whether ACEs or adolescent pregnancy was the principal source of elevated risk for long-term psychosocial consequences and fetal death.

      • Design, Setting, and Participants. A retrospective cohort study of 9159 women aged ≥18 years (mean 56 years) who attended a primary care clinic in San Diego, California in 1995–1997.

      • Main Outcome Measure. Adolescent pregnancy, psychosocial consequences, and fetal death, compared by ACE score (emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; exposure to domestic violence, substance abusing, mentally ill, or criminal household member; or separated/divorced parent).

      • Results. Sixty-six percent (n = 6015) of women reported ≥1 ACE. Teen pregnancy occurred in 16%, 21%, 26%, 29%, 32%, 40%, 43%, and 53% of those with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to 8 ACEs. As the ACE score rose from zero to 1 to 2, 3 to 4, and ≥5, odds ratios for each adult consequence increased (family problems: 1.0, 1.5, 2.2, 3.3; financial problems: 1.0, 1.6, 2.3, 2.4; job problems: 1.0, 1.4, 2.3, 2.9; high stress: 1.0, 1.4, 1.9, 2.2; and uncontrollable anger: 1.0, 1.6, 2.8, 4.5, respectively). Adolescent pregnancy was not associated with any of these adult outcomes in the absence of childhood adversity (ACEs: 0). The ACE score was associated with increased fetal death after first pregnancy (odds ratios for 0, 1–2, 3–4, and 5–8 ACEs: 1.0, 1.2, 1.4, and 1.8, respectively); teen pregnancy was not related to fetal death.

      • Conclusions. The relationship between ACEs and adolescent pregnancy is strong and graded. Moreover, the negative psychosocial sequelae and fetal deaths commonly attributed to adolescent pregnancy seem to result from underlying ACEs rather than adolescent pregnancy per se.

      Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.


      • 2011 Teen Birth Rates

        • Texas: 46.9 / 1000 (150% national average)

        • National Average: 31.3 / 1000

        • Worse States: Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma (Texas 5th)

      CDC. Trends in the Prevalence of Selected Risk Behaviors and Obesity for All Students National YRBS: 1991—2011.

      U.S. Social Security Act, §510(b)(2).
      An eligible abstinence education program is one that: 
      A) has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity; 
      B) teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children; 
      C) teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems; 
      D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity; 
      E) teaches that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects; 
      F) teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society; 
      G) teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and 
      H) teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.” 

      Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw . U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity . March 2013 .

      • Texas ranked 3rd, behind New Mexico & Mississippi, for highest rate of teen pregnancies

      • 15-19: 85/1000 (25% above the national average)

      • 15-17: 48/1000

      • 18-19: 142/1000

      • 2005: 87/1000; 2000: 101/1000; 1996: 113; 1992: 122; 1988: 117 (15-19)

      • Non-Hispanic White: 58/1000

      • Black: 161/1000

      • Hispanic: 118/1000

      Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw . U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity . February 201 2.

      • National Average Teen Pregnancies: 67.8/1000

      • Recent research concluded that almost all of the decline in the pregnancy rate between 1995 and 2002 among 18–19-year-olds was attributable to increased contraceptive use. Among women aged 15–17, about one-quarter of the decline during the same period was attributable to reduced sexual activity and three-quarters to increased contraceptive use. 

      Kathryn Kost . Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 . September 2013 . Guttmacher Institute .

      In 2008, 52% of all pregnancies (301,000) in Texas were unintended. Just over the national average of 50%. This number remains unchanged since 2002, when data collection began.

      "States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined."

      "Even when accounting for these factors, which could potentially impact teen pregnancy rates, the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained: the more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rates.

      "'Because correlation does not imply causation, our analysis cannot demonstrate that emphasizing abstinence causes increased teen pregnancy. However, if abstinence education reduced teen pregnancy as proponents claim, the correlation would be in the opposite direction,' said Stanger-Hall."

      Authors found that 67% of heterosexual adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 received comprehensive sex education (education about how to say no to sex in addition to education about birth control).About a quarter of adolescents received abstinence-only education and 9% received no sex education at all.

      Adjusted for potential confounding factors, those who received comprehensive education were 60% less likely to report teen pregnancy than those who received no sex education and 50% less like to report teen pregnancy than those who received abstinence only education.There was also a strong trend indicating that those who received comprehensive education were less likely to engage in sexual intercourse compared to those who received no sex education.No significant decrease in risk for either pregnancy or engaging in sex was found for abstinence only education.

      In an accompanying editorial in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Norman Constantine of the University of California, Berkeley states, "Moral values do have a place in public policy discourse, yet it is imperative for all sides to recognize that there is no evidentiary basis for AO [Abstinence Only] education and that a growing foundation of convergent evidence favors CSE [Comprehensive Sex Education]."

      Dispelling the Myth: What Parents Really Think about Sex Education in Schools. Susan R. Tortolero . Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk . Volume 2, Issue 2 Teen Pregnancy. October 18, 2011.

      • 66% of Texas parents want Abstinence plus condoms and contraception taught in public schools. 27% abstinence-only, 8% none.

      • That 66% includes: 70% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans and 61% of Independents

      • 64% of Texas parents want sex ed taught starting in middle school or earlier. 28% in High school. 8% never.

      • That 64% includes: 74% of Democrats, 54% of Republicans, 61% of Independents

      Szalavitz, M. 2013. “Why New York’s Latest Campaign to Lower Teen Pregnancy Could Backfire.”


      • “When it comes to sexual behavior among teens, there is little research that directly addresses the question of shame in influencing how sexually active they are, but data shows that abstinence-only sex education, which attempts to stigmatize early sex, often through religious messages, is not effective in preventing teen pregnancy. The highest rates of teen pregnancy tend to be in states and countries where abstinence-only education predominates and the lowest rates occur in states and countries where information about sex and contraception is provided in a nonjudgmental manner, which is the approach New York already uses in its schools.”

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