Safe-Sex Activists Oppose Abstinence-Only Texts in Texas

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Safe-Sex Activists Oppose Abstinence-Only Texts in Texas


Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Texas education officials and activists on all sides of the sex-education debate are battling over the adoption of new health textbooks for the state's 7,800 public schools.

Texas law enacted in 1995 is emphatic: "Any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality, sexually-transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome ... must present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age."

But Planned Parenthood Federation of America lobbyists and safe-sex advocates are fighting against middle- and high-school textbooks that teach the benefits of sexual abstinence instead of advocating condom use by sexually active teenagers.

"Information on family planning and disease prevention is not in the books," Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said at a State Board of Education textbook adoption hearing last month at which more than 315 people testified.

Ms. Smoot, who is leading a "Protect Our Kids Campaign" with Planned Parenthood and other groups to get comprehensive sex-education information into Texas' proposed textbooks, said the state's abstinence-only approach was insufficient. She said students need information about condoms and other means to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

"I happen to believe personally that in this day and age, the most important lifesaving piece of information a teenager can walk out of a health class with is that, at whatever age they become sexually active, they need to wear a condom each and every time," Ms. Smoot told the board.

Last month, Ms. Smoot came to Washington to rally support against abstinence-only textbooks at a conference hosted by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. …

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