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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TEXAS: 'Abstinence-Plus' Emerging in More Texas Schools
Renee C. Lee
January 10, 2012
Houston Chronicle (12.27.11) - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The proportion of Texas school districts that offered comprehensive sex education in 2010 was nearly 25 percent, according to a recent analysis of data from a Texas Education Agency survey. Only 4 percent of districts took the comprehensive approach in 2007, said a study by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, which advocates for abstinence-plus sex education.

In Harris County, 93 percent of parents support school-based sex education, including 70 percent favoring abstinence-plus programs by middle school or earlier, a study by the Prevention Research Center of the University of Texas School of Public Health shows. The county's teen birth rate is the same as the state rate of 63 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, which is the third-highest nationally. Statewide, 10 percent of sixth-graders have had sex, as have 70 percent of high school seniors, the center said.

Texas does not require schools to teach sex education. If they do, districts may include instruction about condoms and contraception, but all programs must emphasize abstinence until marriage. Over the past decade, Texas has led the nation in receiving federal money for abstinence-only sex education, which restricts how lessons about condoms and contraception can be taught.

The Houston Independent School District has for some time offered an abstinence-plus sex education program developed by staff, district officials say. The comprehensive approach was taken based on youth risk behavior data from middle and high schools.