A Texas legislative session with a slew of freshman representatives brushed with the fervor of the Tea Party movement must surely be like red meat on a platter for groups like the Texas Freedom Network.
The Texas Freedom Network has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the State Board of Education's ongoing culture wars. Of late, they've also turned their attention to bills filed by some of the more energetic members of the freshman class of the 83rd Legislature, most of them in the Texas House.
Yesterday, Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, announced his bill, House Bill 1057, that would require students to opt in, rather than opt out, of sex education classes. Then, as a kick, Leach also added language that would stop any abortion provider from offering any sort of sex education instruction in public schools.
Take that, Planned Parenthood. Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, was quick with a rejoinder. Quinn said House Bill 1057 would make it harder, not easier, to teach effective sex education in a state that already has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. "As it should, state law already requires public schools to tell parents what they are teaching about sex education and inform them of their right to review the curriculum and opt their children out of such classes," Quinn said. "This bill simply imposes new and completely unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on school districts at a time when the legislature has already been cutting billions of dollars from public education."
In his press release on the bill, Leach said public schools should be the last place where third parties -- insert "Planned Parenthood" -- seek to teach misguided and unreliable sex education in classrooms. And, beyond that, seeking potential future clients in the course of teaching sex education.
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"Additionally, Texas public schools should not be a marketplace for the abortion industry, and Texas taxpayers should not be funding abortion providers' recruiting efforts," Leach said. "Parents have a right to know when third party groups enter our schools to teach on such a personal and private subject as human sexuality, and ultimately, should have the final say on the instruction provider and content."
For the record, sex education does include the input of parents. Most school districts have a district committee that makes choices on what materials to use in sex education lessons. Quinn countered that if Leach wanted to improve sex education classes in Texas, he'd support legislation to make them medically accurate.
"The Legislature has repeatedly refused to pass such a requirement because it would bar abstinence-only programs that teach myths, exaggerations and outright false information about contraception," Quinn said.