Teen chlamydia epidemic rages in sex ed-shunning Texas school district

Nearly 10 percent of Crane HS students have an STI, but the state still endorses abstinence-only education

Published May 4, 2015 5:08PM (EDT)

  (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-799246p1.html'>woaiss</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
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A west Texas school district has confirmed nearly two dozen cases of chlamydia among high school students, at a small-town campus that -- surprise! -- endorses an abstinence-only sex education program, but does not officially offer sex ed.

At least 20 cases of chlamydia among students at Crane High School were reported to the Crane Independent School District last week, after the Texas Department of State Health Services alerted district officials to the high rate of cases reported in the surrounding counties. According to CBS affiliate KOSA, the district notified Crane High School parents on Monday of the "growing problem," which so far affects a significant percentage of the school's nearly 300 students. Crane ISD also informed parents of middle school students about the outbreak, although it is currently contained to high schoolers.

"Honestly I don't want my kid growing up in an area where nasty stuff like that happens," Crane resident Edward Martinez told KWES.

As Raw Story uncovered, Crane ISD's current student handbook states that the district "does not offer a curriculum in human sexuality," but allows for instructors to cover the topic in other classes. Parents, however, are free to remove their students from a school sex education course without penalty.

Should teachers provide sex ed at a Crane public school, it must be in accordance with Texas' statewide guidelines, which emphasize abstinence as "the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age." Specifically, instructors may use Scott & White's "Worth the Wait" Abstinence Plus curriculum, which the district's school health advisory committee officially recommended in 2012. The same advisory committee that recommended the optional abstinence-plus curriculum reportedly plans to meet on Monday to discuss how best to address the chlamydia outbreak.

Left untreated, chlamydia can pose serious threats to a patient's fertility and make it impossible for a woman to become pregnant. In 2012, Texas ranked 13th in infection rates for the STI nationally, according to CDC estimates. The state also ranked 13th and 6th in infection rates for gonorrhea and syphilis, respectively.

By Jenny Kutner

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Abstinence-only Sex Ed Chlamydia Sex Ed Sex Education Sexually Transmitted Infections Sti Texas