Texas Reps. Say Planned Parenthood Recruits Schoolkids, Aim to End Its Sex Ed Effort
Texas parents beware: your children are being "imperiled" by "abortion peddlers" who want to teach them "sex education."
No. No, they're not. Although at some point someone might want to teach them to put a condom on a banana, and conservative lawmakers, predictably, want to make damn sure that person's not from Planned Parenthood.
Freshman State Rep. Jeff Leach, a Republican lawyer from Plano, filed a bill yesterday with several co-authors that they're calling the "Texas Parental Control Accountability Act." The bill, H.B. 1057, the full text of which is right here, mandates that a parent or guardian provide written consent before a student can get "human sexuality or family planning instruction."
Texas state law already allows parents to opt their children out of sex ed classes, and says they should be informed on what the kids are being taught. But the permission slip aspect isn't the real aim of the bill. Leach also wants to prevent certain people or agencies from providing sex ed, namely "an entity or individual that performs abortions or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions."
You see where we're going here.
During the fight to keep Planned Parenthood's health clinics out of the Women's Health Program, the term "abortion affiliate" has become Texas conservative code for Planned Parenthood. Leach's bill goes on to say that the same "abortion affiliates" should also be banned from providing educational materials for sex ed classes.
In a press release yesterday, Leach said, in part:
Our children in public schools should not and must not be exposed to third parties that seek to teach misguided and unreliable sex education in classrooms. Additionally, Texas public schools should not be a marketplace for the abortion industry, and Texas taxpayers should not be funding abortion providers' recruiting efforts. Parents have a right to know when third party groups enter our schools to teach on such a personal and private subject as human sexuality, and ultimately, should have the final say on the instruction provider and content. This common-sense legislation promotes parental control and accountability in the classroom.
The idea that Planned Parenthood goes around "recruiting" people to have abortions is a very popular one among anti-abortion groups in the state. Oh look, here comes one of them now, in the very same press release. Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life said the bill "marks the next logical step in keeping funds from the abortion industry."
"After Texas Right to Life's 2011 success in reallocating funds to clean health care agencies and programs," she adds, "we don't want funds flowing to abortion advocates through school contracts. Furthermore, parents should be afforded the confidence that their young children will not be imperiled by abortion peddlers while at school."
Rep. Jodie Laubenberg of Parker, a co-author of the bill along with Reps. Geanie Morrison and Scott Turner claimed that abortion providers "have a financial interest in the area of sexual education," adding, "the classroom is not the proper place to market and recruit clients."
So what the hell is going on here? Is Planned Parenthood handing out abortion sign-up sheets at middle schools?
"It's a shame," Danielle Wells, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said of the bill. She sounded tired.
"I don't have specifics on sort of the breadth of our programs in public schools across the state," she added. "But we do community education programs." You can see some of them on PPGT's website , where they promote scandalous concepts like "avoiding peer pressure, postponing sexual activity; preventing sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV." The nonprofit has delivered this type of sex-ed program at public and private schools, colleges, youth shelters and even probation and detention facilities.
Texas Freedom Network is not happy. They're the same civil liberties and education organization that brought us news of all the ridiculous things Texas public schools are teaching children in religion classes . For years, they've been fighting for better, more accurate sex ed in Texas public schools. That might be a good idea, given that Texas has the third or fourth highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country, and ranks number one for repeat teen births.
Dan Quinn, TFN's spokesperson, quickly issued a press release on the bill.
"In a state with the one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation, this bill would make it harder for schools to teach effective sex education," Quinn writes. "As it should, state law already requires public schools to tell parents what they are teaching about sex education and inform them of their right to review the curriculum and opt their children out of such classes. This bill simply imposes new and completely unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on school districts at a time when the Legislature has already been cutting billions of dollars from public education."
TFN has done several reports on sex ed in Texas public schools. Last year, they found that about half the sex ed programs in the state use materials from outside agencies. But a whopping 75 percent of those sex ed programs teach the "abstinence-only" variety, providing no information on STD prevention, pregnancy, or contraceptives.
Mustn't give those teenagers any ideas.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.