Saturday, October 22, 2011

Texas Takes On Teen Pregnancy...Again

Kudos to State Representative Valinda Bolton, who spoke at the 2nd Annual Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Conference at the capitol on Thursday. Representative Bolton is the new Executive Director for the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and qualified at that: She has been working as a non-profit consultant her whole professional career, and has been a widely known and well-respected domestic violence and family issues expert around the capitol. 

Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the nation, and the second highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy. Current policy still dictates that abstinence-only sex education is taught in high schools across the state, despite Texan teens desperate pleas for a more comprehensive (realistic) sex ed.

Teen pregnancy is a public health crisis, costing Texas taxpayers more than $1.24 billion a year in public healthcare and child welfare expense. Beyond monetary costs, it keeps young adults ignorant to the facts about sexual health and is inherently shameful of a sex-positive lifestyle. Education of any type fuels analytical discussion, discovery of identity, and critical thinking. Forcing outdated and unrealistic sexual and moral expectations on young adults curtails their ability to make important decisions in their own right and become adults.

The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy believes "through the use of evidence-based, effective curricula and programs, as well as access to age appropriate preventative healthcare available to teens regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or ethnicity, we can reduce the teen pregnancy rate in Texas." But that involves huge policy overhaul in the school systems, which requires the support of people. It's time for us to accept that teenagers may have sex, despite the propaganda - and our only recourse to protect them is through thoroughly educating them about both consequences and contraceptives. 

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