The Texas SBOE and Sex Education

It’s been a long time since we wrote about the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). We followed their shenanigans closely in the early years of this blog, because a majority of the Board were creationists. Their chairman was Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. He was defeated back in 2010 — see Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy.

Things haven’t been the same since then, but Texas is still a creationist state. That is very obvious, according to the Austin Chronicle, a weekly “alternative” newspaper in Austin, Texas, the state capital. Their headline is State Board of Education Brings a New Anti-Sex Circus to Town, and they have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The State Board of Education has anointed anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and creationism advocates to guide the revision of its health curriculum standards, which include sex education for Texas public schools. Though the Capitol remained calm this past session, we are poised for an unwelcome revival of the SBOE’s schtick of throwing right-wing bombs into the state’s classrooms.

This controversy is about sex education, rather than science education — but the same people could also attack the teaching of evolution. The newspaper says:

“With all of our state’s world-class medical and public health institutions, it’s inconceivable that board members couldn’t find better qualified, less politically divisive individuals for this so-called ‘experts’ panel,” said Kathy Miller of SBOE watchdog Texas Freedom Network. “These appointments are more about fighting the culture wars than making sure Texas students get the facts they need to make healthy and responsible decisions in their lives.”

That may be true, but hey — they don’t want any of that LGBTQ stuff in Texas! Here’s more:

Who is on this wingnut dream team? Austin OB-GYN Mikael Love is often tapped by the state to defend its abortion laws in court and routinely testifies in favor of anti-choice bills at the Capitol. … Another physician, Jack Lesch, is on the board of the Austin-based Medical Institute for Sexual Health, founded by an abstinence advocate who considers comprehensive sex education a failure. And Dawn Riley heads an crisis pregnancy center in Amarillo that offers “mentoring groups” instructing visitors to choose a “purity-based lifestyle/sexuality” and to reject “society’s ‘norms’ that contradict biblical principles.” Then there’s Feyi Obamehinti, an unsuccessful SBOE candidate who has supported teaching creationism in science classrooms and also backed the Lege’s [presumably that’s “legislature”] failed 2017 “bathroom bill,” an attempt to discriminate against transgender students, saying that the measure “protects all children.”

That’s quite a collection! The news continues:

The state’s current health education standards and textbooks include no information about sexual orientation and gender identity, TFN notes. [Texas Freedom Network, apparently.] The textbooks adopted by the board in 2004 also don’t include info on condoms, birth control, or preventing sexually transmitted infections, aside from abstinence. Texas consistently leads other states in its teen birth rate; it is currently No. 4, according to federal data.

Where’s the problem here? When your Curmudgeon was in school, those subjects weren’t in any of our textbooks — and look how great we turned out! What do the kiddies need to know, other than abstinence?

The newspaper goes on a bit more, but that’s enough to give you the picture. This isn’t a battle over creationism, but Texas is still entertaining. We’ll be watching for future developments.

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6 responses to “The Texas SBOE and Sex Education

  1. docbill1351

    As I recall, all it takes is for two board members to nominate an “expert” and that person is in. No vetting.

    So, when the board was filled with creationist crackpots, the “experts” brought in to guide the standards writing were crackpots. Yes, it’s a stupid way to do things. That’s how you end up with Dr. Oz treating your diabetes with kukubunga oil.

  2. Eric Lipps

    That’s Texas for you: leading the nation forward—forward, to yesterday! Senator Billboard Rawkins, call your office!

  3. greenpoisonfrog

    I’m so thankful for religion.

  4. Dear Curmudgeonly Enlightenment Advocate. Enlighteningly. The Austin Chronicle is indeed an alternative to the mainstream news, which is, appropriately, named the Austin American Statesman. TFN gets more coverage in the Chronicle for sure.

  5. When your Curmudgeon was in school, those subjects weren’t in any of our textbooks — and look how great we turned out!

    Depends on who you refer to with ‘we’. It might be true for the majestic plural ‘we’. But if you’re an unwanted child from an extramarital adventure, or born in an abusive household, or born from a teenage mother incapable to finish her education and secure a job, or worse yet the result of rape, you might not turn out that great.

    Research has shown, repeatedly I think, that abstinence postpones the first sexual encounter of adolescents a bit, but then far more often leads to unprotected sex. Jesus doesn’t stop teenagers from the strong urge of having sex.

    A combination of abstinence-only education and a total ban on abortion from semen to schoolchild constitutes a form of near-psychopathic cruelty and indifference to the fate of your children.

  6. och will, Wikipedia’s article on the Austin Chronicle informed me that it’s an alternative weekly.