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Organizations Launch Campaign To Fight Assault On Responsible Health Education In Textbook Adoption

Proposed New Health Textbooks Omit Basic, Medically Accurate Information on Preventing Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2004

AUSTIN A coalition of organizations and mainstream Texans called today on the State Board of Education to ensure that new high school health textbooks include basic, scientifically and medically accurate information on sex and health.

“Families are faced with more challenges than ever in raising healthy, responsible children,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a member organization of the Protect Our Kids Campaign (www.protectourkids.com). “They need common sense, practical information on sex and health that deals with the real-life situations we face every day.”

Health educators, ministers and other mainstream Texans joined the 93 percent of parents with high school children who believe it is appropriate to teach teens about birth control.

The State Board of Education must determine whether high school health textbooks submitted by publishers in April conform to the state’s curriculum standards, called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. TEKS 7I requires that textbooks and 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 proposed new textbooks currently include no information about family planning and disease prevention, said Heather Paffe, political director for the Texas Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates (TAPPA). Paffe noted that Texas has the nation’s highest teen birth rate and that nearly half of all new cases of sexually transmitted diseases including half of all new HIV infections occur in youth ages 15-24.

“Failing to include scientifically and medically accurate sexuality information in health textbooks would have dangerous repercussions,” Paffe said. “It’s too dangerous to give our young people anything short of information that is scientifically and medically accurate. That’s why it’s vital that health textbooks equip teens with sexuality information that is reliable, complete and age-appropriate.”

The state board has scheduled public hearings on the textbooks for July 14 and September 8. Deadlines for members of the public to sign up to testify are July 9 and September 4. The board will vote November 5 to reject the textbooks or place them on the state’s official adoption list.

The Protect Our Kids Campaign is a project of a coalition of organizations advocating for responsible health education for Texas schoolchildren.

 

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