I wish this were a bad joke -- the unfair caricature of Texas that you might see on a Prius' bumper sticker -- but it isn't: A whopping 94 percent of school districts in the Lone Star State teach only abstinence, according to a new report. Worse yet, the review by two professors at Texas State University found that "sexuality education materials" used in the state "regularly contain factual errors and perpetuate lies and distortions about condoms and STDs." They also found that classes promoted gender stereotypes, sexual orientation biases, shame and fear. Oh, what fun!
Disturbing as they may be, those top-line summaries of the findings are nothing compared to excerpts included in the report (PDF) from actual teaching materials. Suicide is a favorite scare tactic: One program predicts non-virginal students' miserable future, "You know people talk about you behind your back because you’ve had sex with so many people ... Finally you get sick of it all and attempt suicide." There are fun skits about suicide, too. In one, titled "Jumping Off the Bridge," the moral of the story is put like so: "Giving a condom to a teen is just like saying, 'Well if you insist on killing yourself by jumping off the bridge, at least wear these elbow pads -- they may protect you some?'" (Got it: Handing out condoms = assisted suicide.)
Premarital sex presents a triple threat, though: If you don't kill yourself, you'll probably die anyway -- and if you don't die, you'll probably kill your sex partner. In response to a question about having premarital sex, an abstinence-only education video warns: "Well, I guess you’ll have to be prepared to die. And you'll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children." (Noted: Premarital sex = murder-suicide.) Boys are warned that they might kill their girlfriend by having sex: If you give her HPV, she'll "probably end up with a radical hysterectomy, cervical cancer, and possibly death." (So, you know, sure, go ahead and have sex, you murderer.) A curriculum for wee little sixth-graders exclaims: “WARNING! Going on this ride could change your life forever, result in poverty, heartache, disease, and even DEATH.” Another cautions in all-caps: "FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO ENGAGE IN SEX NOW IS LIKE PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE WITH ALL BUT ONE CHAMBER FULL!"
Suicide, death, murder? These programs gotta be pretty good at scaring teens out of having sex, right? Mmm, not exactly. Texan teens "rate well above national averages on virtually every published statistic involving sexual risk-taking behaviors," according to the report, and the state has the third-highest teen birthrate in the country.