Situation: Texas State Board of Education is reviewing the Health standards, called TEKS. The drafts all include “Sexual Risk Avoidance and Sexual Risk Reduction” as a single “substrand” under the “strand” Reproductive and Sexual Health.
Four moms testified on Wednesday, November 13, to inform the process. After 3 minutes prepared testimony each, the Board asked the four of us to step up to the microphones for some questions. Below are some highlights.
The workgroups will continue to work through the details of this process and a “first draft” will be reviewed by the Board at their June 2020 meeting. Once the standards are set, then the textbook selection process will begin.
As always, the opposition (SIECUS and Texas Freedom Network) has opinions on the standards:
- “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change course and adopt a medically accurate sex ed curriculum that includes information on birth control and is inclusive of LGBTQ people.”
- “Because of the state’s size, Texas has had a major influence on the national textbook market over the years. Publishers write textbooks to conform to the Texas standards and then sell those textbooks in other states as well.”
And, of course, there is a white paper to summarize their recommendations –
Condom Effectiveness should be based on human use reality rates rather than theoretical laboratory rates. A condom may fail 3% of the time in the laboratory. But the actual failure rate by ADULTS is between 15% and 20%. Comprehensive Sex Education advocates believe that if children learn and practice steps for proper condom use then the failure rates could be improved. By teaching the steps for proper condom use, demonstrating condoms, and facilitating condom practice sessions, adults are encouraging sexual activity among children and violating the Texas Education Code 28.004.
Human Sexuality Instruction is optional in Texas School Districts. If Human Sexuality is taught, districts may choose an Abstinence Plus message by including contraception in the instruction. They may educate on contraception, but they may not advocate. According to Texas Education Code 28.004, IF contraception is included, then the district MUST teach human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates. Make sure that your students Human Sexuality Instructor attests to Texas Education Code 28.004.
Opt Out or Opt In?
Texas Education Code 28.004 requires districts to state the parent’s right to opt their students out of Human Sexuality Instruction. Many districts post this information in the Parent Handbook.
Some districts are considered Opt-In. What process does your district use to assure parents that the opt out is honored?
Excerpt from Texas Education Code 28.004 –
“(2) a statement of the parent’s right to:
(A) review curriculum materials as provided by Subsection (j); and
(B) remove the student from any part of the district’s human sexuality instruction without subjecting the student to any disciplinary action, academic penalty, or other sanction imposed by the district or the student’s school”
In the State of Texas, Sex Education is NOT required to be taught in school. The TEKS and Texas Education Code document the General Requirements and Content Requirements for instruction, but it is not required. See excerpt below.
If your district is teaching Sex Education, did you receive written notice?
Many districts will document this statement in the Student and Parent Handbook. The statement may be an excerpt from TEC 28.004 or it may provide scope and sequence for the curriculum.
Ask your school district for details in addition to the Handbook.
(i) According to Texas Education Code 28.004:
“Before each school year, a school district shall provide written notice to a parent of each student enrolled in the district of the board of trustees’ decision regarding whether the district will provide human sexuality instruction to district students. If instruction will be provided, the notice must include:
(1) a summary of the basic content of the district’s human sexuality instruction to be provided to the student, including a statement informing the parent of the instructional requirements under state law;
(2) a statement of the parent’s right to:
(A) review curriculum materials as provided by Subsection (j); and
(B) remove the student from any part of the district’s human sexuality instruction without subjecting the student to any disciplinary action, academic penalty, or other sanction imposed by the district or the student’s school; and
(3) information describing the opportunities for parental involvement in the development of the curriculum to be used in human sexuality instruction, including information regarding the local school health advisory council established under Subsection (a).”
Every school district in the State of Texas is required to have a School Health Advisory Council, SHAC, “to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education instruction.”
Texas Education Code
Sec. 28.004. LOCAL SCHOOL HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL AND HEALTH EDUCATION INSTRUCTION.
(a) The board of trustees of each school district shall establish a local school health advisory council to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education instruction.
According to Texas Education Code 28.004, “any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome shall be selected by the board of trustees with the advice of the local school health advisory council and must:
(1) present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age;
(2) devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior;
(3) emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity, if used consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity;
(4) direct adolescents to a standard of behavior in which abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; and
(5) teach contraception and condom use in terms of human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in curriculum content.”