Texas County With Abstinence-Only Sex Education Curriculum Shows Increases in Teen Pregnancy, STDs
The Washington Post today examines the sex education curriculum in Lubbock, Texas, public schools -- where an abstinence-only curriculum has been mandatory since 1995 -- and the "limitations" of such programs. In Lubbock county, teen pregnancy rates have not fallen as dramatically as they have nationally, and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases has "soared," according to the Post. In 2000, the county reported double the national gonorrhea rate of fewer than 150 cases for every 100,000 people, and the county's teen pregnancy rate remains "one of the highest in the state," the Post reports. Ed Ainsworth, a teacher in Lubbock who is a proponent of abstinence-only sex education, said that the county's abstinence education curriculum is based on the "consequences of casual sex at a young age," including unwanted pregnancy, having a "reputation" as a "slut" and contracting HIV or other STDs, according to the Post. Joseph McIlhaney, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, said it is "too early" to tell how effective Lubbock's program is but added that in some cases, teen sexual activity has decreased after education focusing on condom failure rates and STDs. Vilka Scott, a disease intervention specialist at the Lubbock Health Department, said that comprehensive sex education does not "lead to bad decisions" but instead "empowers individuals to make their own responsible decisions." President Bush, who as Texas governor signed the 1995 law mandating abstinence-only education in the state, is promoting such programs nationwide, marking a "shift in health policy that has sparked an emotional debate" (Connolly, Washington Post. 1/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.