Texas Lawmakers Propose Sex Education Bills

January 14, 2015 — Two Texas lawmakers filed bills addressing sex education ahead of the first day of the state's legislative session on Tuesday, the San Antonio Current's "The Daily" reports.

One of the bills (HB 78) would require public schools to offer sex education that is "medically accurate" and "age-appropriate," while the other (HB 205) would prohibit individuals or entities affiliated with abortion providers from providing sexual health and education materials for schools.

Existing Sex Education Programs

According to "The Daily," Texas public schools are only required to teach about abstinence but have the option to also have instruction about contraceptives. In each school district, a school health advisory committee, comprised of parents and other community members, has the authority to decide which sex education materials can be used by schools. In addition, parents can elect to remove their children from a particular sex education lesson.

Details of HB 78

HB 78, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D), would define "medically accurate" as instruction that is "supported by peer-reviewed research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and recognized as accurate by leading professional organizations and agencies with relevant experience, such as the American Medical Association."

Gonzalez's bill would "kee[p] the focus" of sex education programs mostly on abstinence, "The Daily" reports. However, the bill also would require school districts to include the effect that FDA-approved contraceptives have in preventing sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

The bill also would allow school districts to choose to distribute condoms, which is prohibited under current state law. In addition, the legislation would mandate that the state Board of Education develop a rule for public schools to incorporate instruction about communication and healthy relationship skills into their educational materials.

Details of HB 205

Meanwhile, state Rep. Jeff Leach's (R) bill would bar sexual education and health programs from using instruction materials that were created by "an entity or individual that performs abortions or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions." According to "The Daily," the legislation likely is meant to specifically block instruction materials provided by Planned Parenthood (Garcia-Ditta, "The Daily," San Antonio Current, 1/12).