Texas needs more comprehensive sex education

By Tatum Mitchell | Staff Writer

College students have sex — it’s not a secret. Despite this, there is a lack of sufficient sex education and reproductive health resources in the state of Texas.

According to The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Texas is not required to teach sex education. If the content is in the curriculum, abstinence is taught as the main form of birth control.

In addition to these shortcomings, Texas does not require medically accurate information about contraception. Around 58.3% of Texas public schools teach an abstinence-only sex education curriculum, and 25.1% have no curriculum at all.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Texas has the most restrictive abortion policy and an ineffective sex education program — two things that don’t make sense together.

If a state is against abortion, it should place more funding and focus on reproductive health services like birth control and education on how to avoid unsafe sexual practices. To me, restricting sex education and then restricting access to basic reproductive health care is a shocking and nonsensical contradiction.

If students are not getting the education necessary regarding their own reproductive health early on, going to college is like getting thrown into the deep end. No matter a university’s religious affiliation, all students should have access to health services and education regarding their body’s safety. There are ways to combat the lack of education young adults receive before their college years.

Steps have been taken to improve. According to an article written by Allyson Waller for the New York Times, about a year ago, Texas revised its laws surrounding sex education and implemented a broader spectrum of topics. The revisions go into effect August 2022.

“Under the revision, public school educators will be allowed to teach students in seventh and eighth grades about birth control methods such as condoms and other contraceptives, and about their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, S.T.D.s and S.T.I.s,” Waller said in her article.

It’s great little steps are being taken to improve the education programs; however, there is a long way to go before a majority of public schools have effective education on these necessary topics.

Being “allowed” and being “required” are two very different things. Students have the right to learn about their bodies and how to keep themselves safe. It should not be an option at the mercy of a handful of school board members.

While the level of education in middle school and high school is improving bit by bit, the conversation about these topics should continue into later years. The sex education in middle school is different from what young adults need to learn later on in life. Health services should evolve in school systems as people continue to age.

Services, resources and education regarding sex education should be accessible on campus. Implemented levels of classes to talk with students about health and safe practices would break the ice surrounding these topics.

This is a controversial subject, and some families could have complaints about a mandatory sex education class. A section of classes surrounding reproductive health and sex education is the best way to combat this pressing issue. Different options and set hours of reproductive health classes should be required for students.

If the state of Texas will not make any significant changes, as a university, Baylor owes it to the safety and well-being of its students to provide reproductive health education.