Childhood Hometown of George W. Bush Abandons Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage
By Shannon Ingram, SIECUS Program Research Intern
Midland, Texas, childhood home of former President George W. Bush, has had an epiphany about sexuality education. Until last year, many Midland public school stakeholders believed that abstinence-only-until-marriage education was the best possible approach for programs for students. However, as pregnancy rates increased they began to see that their approach wasn’t effective and perhaps a change was needed to improve student engagement.1
Midland’s new curriculum is a replication of the evidence-based program, It’s Your Game - Keep It Real.2 The replication is made possible thanks to funding obtained by the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, which developed the intervention.It’s Your Game will better engage students through computer-based activities not used in the old curriculum. It will be taught to seventh and eighth graders, and was selected by a health advisory panel composed of parents, school personnel, and other concerned members of the community.
Texas has the nation’s third-highest teen birth rate3 and in response school districts across Texas are increasingly open to what advocates call “abstinence plus” sexuality education programs.These approaches still emphasize abstinence but also teach medically-accurate information about contraception and STD prevention.
Amarillo-based Worth the Wait provides an abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum for several school districts in the Texas Panhandle. Their executive director, Amy Christie, insists that those districts have not sought more comprehensive approaches, although the number of districts that use her curriculum has dropped from seven to four. 4
Despite research that abstinence-only-until-marriage education is ineffective at delaying sexual activity until marriage,5 it remains the sex education plan of choice for most schools in Texas. Texas’ state health department chose not to pursue federal funding opportunities for more comprehensive sexual health promotion,6,7 and continues to be the largest recipient of federal money for abstinence-only-until-marriage education.8 However, as developments in Midland suggest, a change is underway in how Texas public school districts approach sexuality education.
1Morgan Smith, “More Schools Teach Safe Sex with Abstinence” The Texas Tribune, 16 September 2011, accessed 7 October 2011, < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-education/public-education/condoms-safe-sex-appear-more-texas-sex-education/>.
2 It’s Your Game, University of Texas Prevention Research Center, accessed 21 October 2011, <http://www.sph.uth.tmc.edu/tprc/tprc-default-inner.aspx?id=11918 >.
3 “Births, by Cesarean Delivery: United States, Each State and Territory, Final 2008 and Preliminary 2009,” Table I-3, National Vital Statistics Reports, v59, n3, 21 December 2010, accessed 7 October 2011, <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_03_tables.pdf>.
4Morgan Smith, “More Schools….”
5Christopher Trenholm, et al., Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs, Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, April 2007, <http://mathematica-mpr.net/publications/PDFs/impactabstinence.pdf>.
6 “FY 2010 Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) Grantees ,” Administration for Children & Families web site, accessed 7 October 2011, <http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/content/docs/10_prep.htm>.
7“Teen Pregnancy Prevention & Personal Responsibility Education Program Grants by State,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site, accessed 7 October 2011, <http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/09/teenpregnancy_statebystate.html>.
8 “Abstinence Grants,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site, accessed 7 October 2011, <http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/09/teenpregnancy_abstinencegrants.html>.