Cougars discuss public school sex education

Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter focused on advocacy for HISD schools while showing “Let’s Talk About Sex,” a documentary on how American attitudes towards sex affect teens and holding an open-floor discussion Tuesday in the University Center Spindle Top Room.

“HISD is doing the right thing, heading in the right direction,” said James Lee, president of TFNSC, “which is to teach students about protecting themselves, but they could go a little further. What we hope HISD to do is teach comprehensive sex education.”

There are three types of sexual education programs — abstinence until marriage, abstinence plus and comprehensive plus. Currently, HISD is teaching abstinence plus.

“With abstinence plus they don’t really show you or tell you all the different methods,” Lee said. “They just say there are methods out there, but you aren’t physically shown a condom. You aren’t shown the pill; they don’t tell you how often you need to take the pill; they don’t tell you that there are other things out there like IUDs or different means of birth control.”

With abstinence until marriage education, sex is not open for discussion, Lee said. Abstinence plus goes one step further by teaching students about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Comprehensive plus bypasses abstinence education and focuses on prevention education that includes STDs, HIV/AIDs education, how to properly use a condom and explores different kinds of birth control available.

“I feel strongly that there should be more funding for contraceptives and for sex education,” said Magdieo Martine, an accounting graduate student. “I’m not a big proponent for abstinence only sex education. That doesn’t work, never does, because people are human and they love sex.”

According to “Let’s Talk About Sex,” 70 percent of American teens have had sex. Of those, 50 percent of their parents believe they are still virgins.

Lee said the solution lies in outreach programs like the School Health Advisory Council, legislatively mandated volunteer groups that each school district has. SHACs are composed of both student and parent volunteers that visit local schools, review education materials and meet before the school board to discuss possible adjustments to the materials.

“Basically the SHAC makes recommendations to the school district. The School Board of Trustees then can either choose to listen to or ignore the recommendations of the SHAC,” said Texas Freedom Network Outreach Coordinator Garett Mize. “They generally accept and pass the recommendations of the SHAC because they don’t want to be seen as going against what the community says.”

According to Mize, the word “condom” is not mentioned in sex education and the stats speak for themselves.

“Texas has held pretty steady as the third-highest rate of teen pregnancy among the 50 states. When it comes to teen birthrate, Texas is number one in that, in particularly in Dallas,” Mize said. “In Texas we have the third largest HIV infection among young people in high school up to age 30, but among our general population, we have the fourth highest rate of HIV infection. In Texas we like to say we’re number one, this is definitely a place we don’t want to be number one.”

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