San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 20th, 2010
San Marcos CISD trustees adopt ‘abstinence plus’


San Marcos CISD  Trustee John Crowley, left, and San Marcos resident and retired science teacher Jeannie Lewis, right, at Monday night’s San Marcos CISD trustees meeting. Photo by Sean Batura.

the July 19, 2010 San Marcos school board of trustees meeting.

News Reporter

San Marcos CISD trustees abolished the school district’s “abstinence only” sex education policy in favor of “abstinence plus” Monday night at a board meeting unusually well attended by the public.

Trustees voted, 5-2, to adopt the abstinence plus sex education curricula for grades six through 12. Instructors using abstinence plus curricula will still teach students that refraining from sex is the best way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), though they will now include information about contraception and methods of preventing sexually transmitted infections.

Parents may legally prevent their children from being exposed to abstinence plus curricula.

Trustees David Castillo and Jesse Ponce cast the votes against abstinence plus.

“I assume that the majority students at San Marcos High School are Christian,” Castillo said. “And if that is the case, then this whole thing is anti-Christian.”

Trustee Judy Allen said she, too, is a Christian and does not find abstinence plus to be against her religion.

Three people addressed trustees during the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment regarding any issue. Two of the individuals expressed support for abstinence plus. The third person asked board members for more funding for the Miller Middle School choir booster club.

San Marcos CISD Superintendent Patty Shafer said a committee could be formed to examine abstinence plus curricula before they are used in classrooms.

“If they see some things that were real blocks for this community, that they just felt weren’t acceptable to the majority of the community, (they could) pull some of those off of there,” Shafer said.

However, Trustee Kathy Hansen said such a committee should strive to make such items more palatable for San Marcos CISD parents, rather than striking them completely. Hansen said she and her colleagues should exercise similar oversight with any curricula.

Shafer’s suggestion came after Ponce expressed horror at reading a proposed abstinence plus curricula that teaches students how to use condoms.

“That has never left my mind,” Ponce said. “That part I read where he shows someone how to put on a condom — that only tells me one thing.”

Allen said she has seen data suggesting that more than 50 percent of teenagers in Texas who had sex within the last three months did not use a condoms. Most school districts in Texas have abstinence only policies, said Texas State Associate Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Ani Yazedjian at a previous board meeting.

“We have many teenagers that are sexually illiterate,” Allen said. “I wish we didn’t have that. But I don’t know where they’re going to learn proper condom use. They don’t seem to know it now. So I’d just say, I’d be very careful of us saying, ‘Whoops, let’s just don’t cover that because that’s something people might get upset about.’”

Jennifer Vogel, the school district’s school age pregnant and parenting program coordinator, said 67 San Marcos CISD students were pregnant during the 2009-2010 school year and 145 students were parents during the same period. San Marcos CISD submitted an enrollment figure of 2,086 for San Marcos High School to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) for re-alignment purposes last October.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 20 of every 1,000 unmarried girls ages 15-17 nationally gave birth in 2006. The same study said the rate of unmarried girls aged 18-19 giving birth in 2006 was 62 per 1,000.

Trustee John Crowley said he was on the school health advisory council when the district adopted the most recent abstinence only curriculum.

“Our teenage pregnancy rates have been fairly consistent for a decade,” Crowley continued. “And I think it was 68 or 70 (pregnancies) that we had this year. So the problem’s not going away.”

Castillo said the board should “shoot for zero” STIs and teen pregnancies by only promoting the sole fool-proof method: abstinence.

The two local citizens who spoke against abstinence only were San Marcos residents Jeannie Lewis and Sue Harrison.

Harrison, a pediatrician who has practiced in San Marcos for more than 20 years, said “abstinence only programs have not been proven effective,” adding that birth rates and STIs have increased among students exposed to such curricula.

“Our local church and our national faith organization, which is the Unitarian Universalist Association, has long supported a comprehensive sexuality education program that includes abstinence, but also includes medically-accurate, safer sex information,” said Lewis, a retired science teacher. “We do believe that that is the best way to go to help our pre-teens and teens avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. It has just proven to work better in other school districts, and I hope that you will consider that.”

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13 thoughts on “San Marcos CISD trustees adopt ‘abstinence plus’

  1. The abstinence-only curriculum has left CISD awash with pregnant students and teen-age parents. Wishful thinking and scare tactics — for instance, calling abstinence-plus “anti-Christian” — will only perpetuate this sad and costly situation. I find it tragic that some school leaders will happily subject these students to more of the same, year after year, in the name of some perceived religious value. Does God want these girls to give birth while they’re still kids themselves? Do we really want to sentence these kids (and their babies) to a lifetime of disadvantage and struggle as a punishment for having sex before marriage?

    Teaching teens how to properly use a condom doesn’t make them sexually active. It makes them educated. And it just might help keep them from making mistakes that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    When I was in middle school in Wisconsin in the early ’70s, we had a sex ed course that was folded into health class. Our teachers talked openly and frankly about sex — what it means, what happens, how to say no. It dispelled a lot of misinformation swirling around the school about sex. But it also reminded us what an important decision it was, and many kids realized they wouldn’t be ready to take that step for a long time. No one I knew walked out of those classes thinking, “Awesome! Now we can do it!”

    Quite the opposite.

  2. The prior curriculum was not the reason there are teenage parents, and the new curriculum will do nothing to reduce the incidence. Instead, it will be poorly designed, poorly administered, poorly taught ,and it will drive children away from the school district. The State and the schools have a consistent history of ruining the best of intentions in execution, so I do not understand why the community wants to give them more and more new responsibilities in our lives.

  3. If an abstinence-only approach is failing, where is the harm in trying something else?

    And I don’t see this as an expansion of government responsibility. How is it any larger of a role than the schools take now by proactively preaching abstinence?

  4. Thanks to Newstreamz for covering the school board meeting. How was attendance? I would like to see some mention of attendance by the community as It looked to me like most of the spectators were school district employees. Monday at 6PM must be a busy time for folks! “Thanks” to the school board for your service!

  5. Wow. This is really embarrassing. It’s tough to believe a school board member would suggest ignoring data, statistics, research, etc. and going with a “gut feeling”. This also has nothing to do with being a Christian. However, if you want to make this about being a Christian, try this. How un-Christian is it to intentionally deny students potential life-saving information? Also, how un-Christian is it to deny students information that might keep some from being pregnant too soon and thus avoiding a life of poverty?

    This guy is a joke. How does someone like this get elected to the school board. He needs to focus his attention on being a deacon at his church instead of trying to spread “Christian values” in a public school. Maybe he can use his Christian charity to help financially support all the pregnant teens in SMCISD. At least he’d be doing something to help.

  6. I agree Steve. Thanks to SM Local News for covering this issue and Jeannie Lewis for speaking in favor of a more medically accurate, comprehensive approach.

  7. “I assume that the majority students at San Marcos High School are Christian,” Castillo said.
    And if that is the case, then this whole thing is anti-Christian.”

    This statement implies that most of the students at SMHS are christian. If this is so, they wouldn’t engage in
    pre-marital sex. But they obviously are having sex and apparently unprotected. This has absolutely nothing
    to do with being a “christian”, but more about being a teenager in an increasingly hyper-sexual society

    Give these kids correct and honest information. Give them a safe place to ask questions, and give them
    something to look forward to besides changing diapers.

    This will help decrease teenage pregnancy

  8. I hope that we can eventually discover what exactly,

    is causing all of these teen pregnancies !!!!

    I’m certainly glad that this did not exist when I was growing up.

    It would have certainly ruined many lives, back then !

  9. I have voiced my thoughts in earlier discussions of this issue, and have little more to say (big sigh of relief out in “electro-land”). The fact that SMCISD has taken A rational step (Thank you all from the heart. Makes me proud.), and the fact that ignorance is still being touted and expressed from the dais, bring a small commentary to mind.

    Who is or is not Christian we can discuss elsewhere. Schools are not a religious forum, unless one is a __________
    extremist, willing to cause harm to infidels who refuse “to get it,” or at least comply with “my way, the right and only way.”

    Teaching “about HOW TO PROPERLY USE A CONDOM” Is either incredibly naive or incredibly disingenuous. Look at one, IF you can find one. How slow can you be, if you are ten or older, not to figure out how to use it, once you know what it is for. Or you could ask a more ingenious friend/couple (I think it does still take two to use one?), which is the handiest source NOW for all “secret” knowledge, contraband, etc. The very shape, size and composition of an “overcoat” seems to suggest how it might be intended to be used. I never saw anybody (Wait, there was that one guy from Midland.) try to stretch one over his head. Show ’em one and tell ’em the main thing is, “Don’t ever spill whatever you may find in here, and don’t get it on your partner, because it’s like really bad poison–looks innocence enough, but it makes all kind of unpleasant things, including death, happen. Jeez! have they devolved THAT FAR??

    Secondly, teach them EXACTLY what some of those bad things are, with pictures. Simple enough. Causes disfigured and handicapped and too-weak-to-survive babies. (Think of the cost, hardship and/or the funeral expenses SOMEBODY’s got to pay!) It can also cause bad, ugly, running sores, like these (graphic) on your and/or your partner’s “Hoo-Hoo;’ also on your internal organs (see TAKS Biology); also on your brain, making you insane (which could be horribly inconvenient unless you are a religious nut or kin to Adolph Hitler, Karl Rove, Jimmy Swaggert or Sarah Palin). Then, IF you actually HIT the lottery, you will have received a quiet gift from another sexy ignoramus that destroys your immune system (TAKS again, plus graphics, which I assume we can access somehow at SMCISD campuses) a little at a time, over years, causing you AND your BFF to get all sorts of REALLY NASTY, REALLY PAINFUL BODY FAILURES (see cancer, liver and lung collapses, etc.–more TAKS and graphics). It is the laws of biochemistry, (TAKS) to which there is NO EXCEPTION, even (especially!) for a stud like you or a princess like her. (Even altar boys.)

    It should not take a genius to figure out that, no matter what the bedroom-eyed devil next to you SAYS, he or she may not be going to their first rodeo. Somebody who will “do it” with a lout like you would, given the right time and place, “do it” with another one–maybe even one of the same sex (EEEEEUWWWWH!). That is, you may not even get the chance NOT to take the gamble–when the pants come down, all bets are off for YOU, Bunky. And prayer or penance won’t take that back. You may even have been lucky before, but as math (TAKS, probabilities, CDC, etc.)
    tells you, that being a winner just one step closer.

    PS: That “stuff” we talked about, you know, that comes out of you when you see a target or find Mr/Ms Right? You DON’T EVEN HAVE TO REALLY ‘DO IT,’ like “all the way.” It can also get in through the mouth or your hind end and hurt you the same way (NOO!!! You may already be screwed and not even know it!!) Next week, next year, whenever. It doesn’t vaporize or decay (TAKS, Chemistry).

    The only good news is that now you can play grownup without having a kid around your neck forever, or telling your Pastor. But then, you might be unable to prove what a macho-man or fertile breeder you are already, and not even out of school yet (unless you keep some to show the fellas, and they may have a source too). You might be just another Pam Anderson, except not rich and not on You Tube. You MIGHT still have a shot at being a career politician, though–if that’s your goal, go for it! Practice makes perfect, and there’s big money in it, even if you can’t get work right now! (TAKS leaves out that last part, but look at Government and Social Sciences anyway, even though they have been shot full of holes by confused people who don’t believe history, either.)

    The course, or curriculum, I modestly suggest, might rightly be called “The Gift That REALLY Never Stops Giving.”

    PS: Those “nonproductive citizens taking the free ride off the producers” the Pee Party and “Publicans are hell-bent to take away and forbid all public benefits so the “Producers” get everything–aside from Old Farts like me and “useless” jobless, homeless Veterans and former farmers–HUGE percentage of former “sexually active teens.” It isn’t in the history books yet, but they still make Google, government records, newspapers, etc. (TAKS, reading).

    Sweet dreams. And thanks again–so far–Trustees. Gotta love it, “public TRUST” and all. Ya know? In the red letter part of my worn-out old Bible, it says, “even as you do it unto the least of these, my children, you do it also unto me.” Scary, ain’t it? Unless you pay no attention to the parts in red.

  10. “.Mr. Q July 21st, 2010 5:17 pm :

    @ B Franklin…it’s unprotected sex silly.”

    Ahh Ha !!!!!

    I think we’re definitely on to something, here !!!!!!!

    It’s a start.

    Now, if those young kids could just remember that.


    But if they just can’t, it’s not their fault !

    Must be the government.

  11. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER - San Marcos Local News

  12. Texas Teen Birth Rate:
    1991: 78 (per 1,000 births)
    2007: 64 (per 1,000 births)

    That is a drop in the teen pregnancy rate of 18% over that time period. 20% of these “teenagers” are married. Over 50% of them are 18 or older. A time period when abstinence only has been stressed in public schools, but schools could teach contraceptive methods as well.

    Texas law, Texas Education Code 28.004(e), requires that abstinence be taught more than any other method, for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
    It’s shame that SMCISD relied in inaccurate information to make their decision.

    See the Child Trends and Kids Count reports that back up this data.

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