KUTNews (Austin) (07.10.2013)
Controversy surrounding Senate Bill 1, the proposed legislation that would limit access to abortions in Texas, has motivated other Texas lawmakers to propose bills that would widen the scope of the state-mandated, abstinence-only sex education curriculum. Senate Bill 25 proposed that abstinence-only education remain the centerpiece; any additional information must be evidence-based or “medically accurate.” Senate Bill 26, proposed by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Harris County), would require school districts to provide evidence-based, comprehensive sex education. According to Ellis, comprehensive sex education also would cover goal setting, decision making and consequences, self-confidence, and respect.
In 2008, the Guttmacher Institute reported that Texas had one of the highest teen birth rates in the United States, with 85 pregnancies per 1,000 women ages 15–19. Opponents of Senate Bills 25 and 26 included Gov. Rick Perry, the State Board of Education, and the nonprofit organization Texas Values. According to Texas Values Spokesperson Jonathan Saenz, abstinence-only education was responsible for a 33-percent decrease in teen pregnancies since 1991.
Since Perry decides what bills would come up for a vote, it was unlikely the legislature would consider Senate Bills 25 and 26. However, the bills’ sponsors were collaborating with other lawmakers to translate Senate Bills 25 and 26 into amendments that might be added to Senate Bill 1. The Texas Freedom Network planned to present a 5,000-signature petition to Perry, urging him to include sex education bills in the current legislative session.
The State Board of Education also could change Texas sex education curricula when it adopts new standards in 2017. Texas Freedom Network Spokesperson Dan Quinn stated that current health education books lack any information about birth control, disease prevention, and pregnancy prevention.