Abstinence-only sex education doesn't work. You know it. Bristol Palin knows it. Shoot, anyone who has ever been or met a teenager knows that telling them to "just say no" is the best and possibly only way to get them to says yes, yes, YES!
Still, it's nice that the folks at the Texas Freedom Network, a group that aims to counter the radical religious right, went to all the trouble to come up with their most recent report, Just Say Don't Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools.
Drs. David Wiley and Kelly Wilson at Texas State University surveyed the state's public school districts to find out how the schools are meeting state mandates for teaching teens about sexuality. So, how are we doing?
Let's see: Ninety-four percent of districts provide abstinence-only information, and 2.3 percent simply ignore the state requirement altogether. Such information as is provided is often inaccurate, misleading and includes religious indoctrination. (One official in a rural district told the report's authors that his school didn't need to teach about human sexuality, because his farm-bred students can learn all they need to know by from their farm animals. We presume he meant by watching them.)
Oh, and Texas ranks third-highest in teen pregnancy rates in the nation.
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The report is long -- infuriating in parts, hilarious in others. Best of all, some locals who provide teaching materials to 150 districts statewide get a special shout-out:
Aim for Success, an abstinence speaker bureau based in Dallas, typically provides no information about basic anatomy and physiology, puberty, menstrual and ovulation cycles, pros and cons of various methods of birth control or any other basic sexuality education information.
Instead, Aim for Success speakers provide motivational "pep talks" for abstinence, breezing past foundational information. Speakers refer to contraceptives -- if they do so at all -- exclusively in terms of their failure rates without providing key information as to what commonly causes contraceptives to fail (user error).
Of course, as any good abstinence-only educator could tell you, the real reason contraceptives fail isn't user error. It's God's will to punish sinners. Natch.