9/10/20: Letter to SBOE Re: Sexual Health Curriculum

September 10, 2020
The Honorable Members of the State Board of Education
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Dear Chairman Ellis and Members of the State Board of Education,
As you know, Texas public school students come from extraordinarily diverse backgrounds, each with their own unique experiences and identities. When we intentionally create educational spaces where students are able to relate to their curriculum and feel comfortable sharing their perspectives, we foster stronger communities, meaningful educational discussions, and better prepare young people to go out into the world. When designing any educational material, it is important that all students are represented so that they have equitable access to quality education. Thus, as you revise your health education standards, the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus respectfully requests that you adapt sexual education curriculum so that it is LGBTQ affirming and inclusive.

The statewide standards for sexual health instruction have not been revised since 1997, and furthermore, public school districts are not currently required to provide students with any sexual education, much less LGBTQ-inclusive sexual education. Thus, it is essential you use this opportunity to make substantive and meaningful revisions to health education standards to meet the current needs of Texas youth. Students need comprehensive sexual health education on contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, the importance of consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

Quality sexual health education can improve sexual health outcomes among teens including reducing risk behavior, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates. In contrast to their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts, LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience negative sexual outcomes and at the same time, they report having limited trusted adults they can talk to about sexual health, making receiving comprehensive and reliable sexual health information in school all the more critical. Moreover, LGBTQ inclusive sexual education would benefit all students no matter how they identify by creating an affirming environment in which students could learn from individuals with different life experiences than their own, reducing stigma and bullying.

In ensuring that schools have the ability to develop and fully implement LGBTQ affirming and inclusive sexual education, we offer the following suggestions:

-Include medically accurate and age-appropriate information for all public school students
about sexual orientation and gender identity;
-Teach students about the importance of consent;
-Design the curriculum with the needs of LGBTQ students in mind and implement it with
the awareness that all classes are likely to have some LGBTQ students;
-Include positive depictions of LGBTQ people and same-sex relationships;
-Use gender-neutral terms such as “they/them” and “partner” whenever possible;
-Teach about sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of contraceptives;
-Ensure that prevention messages related to condom and birth control use are not relayed in
a way that suggests only heterosexual youth or cisgender male/female couples need to be
concerned about unintended pregnancy and STI prevention;
-Avoid making assumptions about students’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

By cultivating an open and inclusive culture in our classrooms, we can provide the highest quality of education for our students. It is incumbent upon our public education system to provide all students with the tools they need to be empowered to make informed decisions. Inclusive sexual health education in public schools will only improve the health and safety of Texas youth. Moreover, nationwide surveys have shown that both public health organizations and the vast majority of parents support LGBTQ inclusive sex education. The time to carefully revise sexual health
curriculum to best serve Texans is now. Thank you for our consideration of this request. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at chair@texashouselgbtqcaucus.com.


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9/10/20: Letter to SBOE Re Sexual Health Curriculum