Legislators: Abstinence-Only Education Inadequate

A group of Democratic state lawmakers is working to change Texas' sex education law that currently leans toward abstinence-only instruction.

Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston and Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio have introduced legislation they said would give teenagers complete, medically accurate and age-appropriate information. It would change current law that requires more attention to be devoted to abstinence than to any other behavior.

The lawmakers said Monday that sex education is inconsistent around the state.

Some conservatives in the past have voiced concern with changing the system. Republican Gov. Rick Perry's office said he would review the new proposal but that he likes the existing policy.

"The governor is comfortable with current law and supports abstinence programs," said his spokeswoman, Allison Castle.

The Texas Republican Party also appears at odds with the proposal. Its platform states: "We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage."

Party spokesman Hans Klingler said the Democrats' proposal would "tie the hands of local school trustees to select a curriculum that may be inappropriate for their community, school and students."

Other Democrats joining Ellis and Castro in pushing the legislation said it would allow parents to "opt out" if they don't want their children to be taught from the sex-ed curriculum. They noted that measure would still present sexual abstinence as the only method that's totally effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

"We're just saying we're all for abstinence. What we don't want is an abstinence from education," Ellis said.

Ellis and Castro said existing state law does not require schools to teach sex education, so some districts may have it and some don't. They said their proposal would not force districts to teach sex education, but that if they do it will require complete and accurate information.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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