The Texas State Board of Education took a preliminary vote on Wednesday to revise existing sex education to include birth control methods beyond abstinence. The new plan doesn’t include education about consent or LGBTQ topics, and a final vote will take place Friday.
Texas has historically ranked among the highest in teen birth rate, and the board’s revision is a meaningful step forward in curbing teen pregnancy. However, by skipping over LGBTQ and consent topics, the state is not going far enough to promote public health for teenagers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has a teen birth rate of 25.3 per 1,000, placing the state among the top 10 highest teen birth rates in the nation. Teen pregnancy contributes to teens dropping out of high school, and children of teenage mothers are more likely to have health problems.
We commend the board for taking this step to promote public health for teenagers. However, by not including information about consent or LGBTQ topics, existing public health issues relating to these topics will likely continue.
According to crime statistics from the FBI, Texas is the 15th most dangerous state when it comes to rape and sexual assault. A study by UT-Austin found that about 30% of Texans experience some form of sexual assault during their lifetimes. Almost 70% of victims report being sexually assaulted multiple times.
These numbers show an epidemic of sexual violence. Lack of education about consent isn’t the only reason for these numbers, but not teaching teenagers that no means no can’t be helping.
According to advocacy group GLAAD, 55% of LGBTQ students don’t feel safe in school because of their sexual orientation. Most LGBTQ students have been either physically or verbally harassed because of their orientation or gender expression. And about 17% of LGBTQ students have been physically assaulted because of their orientation.
These numbers are unacceptable, and by neglecting to cover topics such as acceptance of LGBTQ students, Texas is telling these kids they don’t matter. As a society, we have embraced the idea that LGBTQ people are entitled to the same rights, protections and freedoms as everyone else. It’s a little disheartening that Texas doesn’t appear to feel the same way.
The Lone Star State has made great strides in its sex education, but a few more steps are needed. We call on the board to revisit its plan and include educating teens about consent and LGBTQ topics.
The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Spencer Brewer; Editor-in-Chief Shay Cohen; news editor Angelica Perez; Cecilia Lenzen, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Chris Amaya; David Silva Ramirez, life and entertainment reporter; and copy editor Andrew Walter.