Wednesday, February 15, 2017

There's A Reason For Texas' High Teen Pregnancy Rate

Texas ranks third in the nation for having a high teen pregnancy rate (73 out of every 1000), behind New Mexico (80) and Mississippi (76). And it leads the nation in the rate of second teen pregnancies. Obviously, the state leaders are doing something wrong.

The charts above are from a new report from the Texas Freedom Network. They give us a good idea of why the teen pregnancy rate is so high in Texas. Texas schools are failing to teach real sex education. About 83.4% of Texas schools teach abstinence only (58.3%) or nothing at all (25.1%).

This is because the Republicans have a stranglehold on state government, and they support abstinence only (or no sex education at all) in an effort to pander to the large number of fundamentalist christians in their base. These fundamentalists have the silly notion that if sex is not mentioned, then teens will not learn of it and have premarital sex.

The truth is far different. Teens are not stupid. They know sex exists, and just telling them not to engage in it is futile. What teens need is the knowledge that comes with real sex education -- knowledge that can prevent teen pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. By not providing them with that knowledge, schools (and political leaders) are failing the youth of Texas.

As the bottom chart shows, things have improved slightly from eight years ago -- with the percentage getting abstinence only or nothing falling from 96.3% in 2007-08 to the current level of 83.4%. That is primarily because the Obama administration removed abstinence only requirements mandated by the Bush administration.

But with the national government now controlled completely by right-wing Republicans, and the same being true of Texas state government, I wouldn't expect anymore improvement in the teaching of real sex education. If anything, there will probably be a return to the failed policies of the past.

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