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(210) 212-2576 Healthy Futures of Texas (210) 223-4589 National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (202) 478-8500 Project Worth (210) 207-8850 The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (512) 757-9975 The University of Texas Prevention Research Center https://tmc.edu/tprc, (713) 500-9616 University Health Systems family planning clinics (210) 358-TALK Online chat: Should Texas copy California’s approach to sex education, or should it stick with abstinence and strict parental consent laws?
“This year we had an eighth-grader who had a miscarriage, and we have one pregnant in seventh grade and one pregnant in eighth. A California class Students in the seventh-grade life sciences class at Los Angeles Academy would know Esmeralda's number is wrong. “I tell boys, ‘Dress up your penis like a present,'” said teacher Kristie Barisdale.
I keep telling myself, ‘Well, one or two, that's not so bad.' But one or two is too much.”In Texas, about 34 percent of teens have had sex by ninth grade. They, too, are taught abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way, but they're given other numbers as well: No contraception use for one year carries an 85 percent chance of pregnancy. For those who suspect comprehensive programs push a pro-contraception bias, her classroom walls suggest otherwise.
In California, sex education was just one part of a strategy to cut the state's teen birth rate, now below the national average.
It also increased teen access to contraception and launched a range of teen pregnancy prevention efforts, such as programs that urge boys to be responsible.
Contraception is a common subject in teacher Doelyn Estrella's life sciences class: Condom illustrations have lost their shock value. “But when I'm older, I'm going to need to know this stuff. However, the curriculum is among the few abstinence-only programs to carry that all-important imprimatur: evidence-based.
This gives me confidence.” Some 1,300 miles away, a different scenario is playing out. A review by the national campaign organization noted it doesn't “advocate abstinence until marriage or portray sex in a negative light or suggest that condoms are ineffective.” Marilyn Grubbs, coordinator for student support services at Harlandale Independent School District, said Leal serves a traditional Hispanic community, so abstinence-only adheres more closely with parents' values.
California teachers freely promote condom use and other birth control methods. But the buzzword in sex education now is “evidence-based” — programs that are proven to positively change teen behavior — most of which are comprehensive, at least for now.
Graphic: 2010 teen birth rates and curricula type, by school district Recent coverage: Texas' high teen birth rate carries price beyond dollars Experts cite access to contraception as key Teen births down in Bexar County For information on preventing teen pregnancy: Advocates for Youth (210) 419-3420 Centro Med family planning clinics (210) 334-3750 Girls Inc.
It's a scene you won't find in many schools in Texas.