For the first time in 20 years, the Texas Education Agency is considering adjusting its standards to sex education in schools. The initial changes were drafted by curriculum workgroups made up of teacher's parents, and other education specialists. Some of the changes they proposed include contraception and consent courses for students in middle and high school but made no mention of LGBTQ+ sex education.
Izabel Weaver one of over 153,000 students who identify as LGBTQ+ in Texas, is a senior and founder of the first Gay-Straight Alliance at Waco High School. She says this exclusion is disheartening and disappointing
“That’s so so important for kids to have because the sex education I received has not given me any information that I feel has been helpful. I just feel like they kind of dance around topics instead of really focusing on what’s important,” said Weaver.
Izabel said the only helpful information she's gotten about sex education has been from her mother, but she acknowledges not everyone has that luxury. Especially students who identify as LGBTQ+.
Izabel said, “Sex education could help relationships in finding out what are the red flags, you know finding ways to be safe in your own body. That doesn’t have sexuality on it it should be for everybody.”
“Surveys tell us that nearly 60% of LGBT students in our schools stay they feel unsafe in school and that’s a real tragedy,” said Dan Quinn.
Dan Quinn, Research Director at the Texas Freedom Network says the current sex education requirements have failed Texas students for years with 80% of Texas schools having abstinence-only sex education or none at all.
Quinn said, “Schools can be a safe place where students can learn factual information without having to rely on unreliable resources like the wilderness of the internet or their peers."
On top of excluding LGBTQ+ sex education, Quinn says there has also been some push back to topics like contraception and consent.
“Unfortunately, there is also some opposition on the state board to including information on contraception and the importance of concern which seems rather bizarre in 2020,” said Quinn.
Though a final decision has not been made, Quinn fells there are some things that should be implemented without question.
Quin said, “At the very least the state board should adopt standards where they require students to learn that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“This isn’t something that should be targeted,” added Weaver.
Quinn says the Texas Freedom Network is in the process of drafting up some amendments that they plan to submit to the TEA, but as of right now we will all have to wait till November for their final decision.
Students are not required to take sex ed classes. A parent can choose for their children to opt-out. Currently, Texas law does not require schools to teach STD or HIV prevention.