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Experts, Organizations Call For Responsible Health Textbooks In Texas High Schools

State Board of Education Hears Testimony on Proposed Textbooks that Omit Vital Information on Preventing Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2004

AUSTIN The State Board of Education (SBOE) should insist that publishers conform to all curriculum standards by adding basic, reliable information on birth control and disease prevention to their proposed new high school health textbooks, said the president of the Texas Freedom Network on Wednesday.

“Families are faced with more challenges than ever in raising healthy, responsible children, and they need common sense, practical information on sex and health that deals with the real-life situations they face every day,” said Texas Freedom Network President Samantha Smooth.

Smoot spoke at a public hearing on health textbooks up for approval by the SBOE.

She joined representatives from organizations like Planned Parenthood, clergy, medical experts, educators, parents and other mainstream Texans who lined up Wednesday to call for responsible high school health textbooks. A vast majority of the more than 100 people who signed up to testify opposed the lack of information about sex and health in the textbooks.

Three of the proposed textbooks from Austin-based Holt, Rinehart and Winston and Ohio-based Glencoe/McGraw-Hill include no information on condoms and other contraceptives, said Dr. Jan Realini, chair of the Texas Medical Association Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health.

“I strongly believe we must provide our children with information about abstinence AND condoms and contraceptives so that they are empowered to make informed and healthy decisions about sex,” said Dr. Realini, who is also coordinator for Project WORTH, the city of San Antonio’s teen pregnancy prevention program.

Dr. Realini and representatives from Planned Parenthood noted the high pregnancy and STD-infection rates among teens, particularly in Texas.

“Ignorance won’t protect our kids,” said Heather Paffe, Political Director for the Texas Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Making sure that our kids have the most accurate and reliable information is the best protection we have for raising safe, healthy, responsible adults.”

The SBOE must determine whether high school health textbooks conform to state curriculum standards, called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. TEKS 7i requires that students “analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods including the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), keeping in mind the effectiveness of remaining abstinent until marriage.”

The SBOE has scheduled a second public hearing on the textbooks for September 8. The deadline for members of the public to sign up to testify is September 4. The board will vote November 5 to reject the textbooks or place them on the state’s official adoption list.

The Texas Freedom Network, Planned Parenthood, and other organizations have joined together in the Protect Our Kids campaign for responsible health textbooks. Information about the adoption of health textbooks in Texas can be found at www.ProtectOurKids.com.

 

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