Chlamydia outbreak at Texas high school with no sex ed policy

If you’re in charge of the high school curriculum in Texas, you know a few things. You know that evolution is bad. You know that Newt Gingrich is good. And you know that sex is gross.

That’s why high schools in Texas aren’t required to include sexual education in their curriculum. And if they do choose to talk about students getting it on with each other, they have to emphasize how dangerous and awful and icky and unholy it is. So what little sex ed Texas students get in class sounds a lot like this:

Why didn’t they listen???

God doesn’t want you to do the deed before you get married, but high schoolers have been ignoring the Good Word for as long as there have been high schoolers. To the surprise of no one outside of Jesus Camp, throwing the Bible at teenagers’ junk doesn’t make them any less horny. It just makes them less safe. Late last week, it was reported that the Crane Independent School District in western Texas is going through a chlamydia outbreak. At least 20 of the district’s 300 high schoolers have been infected.

The Crane Independent School District does not include sex ed as part of its curriculum, although one district administrator had recommended that the school adopt the “Worth the Wait” abstinence-plus program back in 2012.

If the school had taught an abstinence-focused program like Worth the Wait, it would have been “better than nothing” in the same way that lining Rick Perry up as a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys would be “better than nothing.” When bioethicist Alice Dreger sat in on her son’s abstinence-focused sex ed class last month, she found that the material ranged from misleading to wrong to borderline encouraging unprotected sex.

So of course, she live-tweeted the whole thing. Some highlights here (check out the whole live-tweet at Mashable):

In what also comes as no surprise to anyone who doesn’t think that lying to kids about condom failure rates is a moral or generally good idea, states where the sex ed curriculums range from nothing to worse than nothing are bad at preventing teen pregnancy and STDs — really, really bad:  CDC data shows that nine of the top eleven statewide rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are in the Old Confederacy. Six of the top ten for teen pregnancy.

These rates are higher in states with abstinence-only or abstinence-focused policies than they are in states that teach comprehensive sex education, because if you teach high schoolers how to have sex without getting diseased or pregnant, they have sex without getting diseased or pregnant.

All this is to say that if you’re going to unbuckle the Bible Belt, make sure you bring protection.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • ComradeRutherford

    It’s really simple: if no one ever tells a teenager about sex, they will never have sex!

  • Don’t rain on my parade. ;-)

  • Unfortunately, they’re not talking about lack of procreation. They just don’t want anyone to talk about it in the context of public health. They want people to marry the first person they can latch onto, and pump out as many cretinous, mouth-breathing babies as they can – who in turn can follow the tradition. Education is always going to be the number one way of reducing the number of fundamentalist ignoramuses, which is why one of their primary goals, everywhere they have political power, has always been to undermine education.

  • UncleBucky

    Maybe that’s one way to reduce the population of fundies, unless of course their preachers encourage making 14 babies for every woman… URRRRgghh.

  • Repeated studies have shown that abstinence programs show zero impact on the teen abstinence rate, but what they do consistently contribute to is higher rates of teen pregnancy, and higher rates of STIs. They serve no purpose other than to waste tax payer money and school’s educational time by actively seeking to reduce the quality of life of future generations by perpetuating ignorance, fear, and shame around what is a completely normal and natural part of all life on the planet.

  • I am 100% in favor of total abstinence for any and all fundamentalist conservatives. Hey, sex is icky, so why even allow it in marriage. Celibacy for all of ’em — that’s what Baby Jesus wants, right?

    In one generation, a problem solves itself, plus the collective average IQ of humanity goes up at least 10-20 points.

  • Indigo

    You make it sound like Indiana.

  • The_Fixer

    I worry that by the time that they’ll smarten up, they’ll already have 5 kids and won’t be able to afford a move out of state.

    So then they stay behind, and the voices of the smarter ones will be drowned out by those of spawn of the current crop of incompetent boobs running the show.

    Texas is still living in the 19th century, I suspect it will remain that way for some time to come.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    You read my comment, right? You just restated what I said in much fewer words.

  • 2karmanot

    Well, just bless my soul. Just use a clean tissue to open doors from now on. Problem solved. Church Lady

  • nicho

    Please don’t perpetuate that myth about “safe sex.” Some wingnuts invented that. When people say “safe” about anything, they mean minimizing the risk or — in some cases — avoiding the risk altogether. They don’t mean making it absolutely risk free. People who will talk about “safe driving,” “safe food handling,” or “safe gun handling” will insist that there is no such thing as “safe sex.” That’s just bullshit. Don’t let them set the vocabulary.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    The educator did have one good point, although he/she was probably not aware of it. There’s no such thing as safe sex, there’s only safer sex.

    Unless the test for chlamydia has changed, there are going to be some very surprised Texas boys.

  • thanks for the catch

  • nicho

    Of course every condom has a hole in it. That’s how you get it on.

  • emjayay

    “When bioethicist Alice Dreger she sat in on her son’s abstinence-focused sex ed class last month…”

  • Butch1

    This is exactly what one can expect when you have an ignorant bunch of hormonal students loose without the sex education to guide them and a little rudimentary discussion on how to use condoms and other devises to keep one from becoming pregnant. Without studying STDs, they haven’t a clue what they’re up against and only think they’re invincible from death and disease and the “god” will protect them; at least that is what they are led to believe if they slip through the cracks and do not follow the “No sex, no masturbation” clauses of their “good book.”

    This is why it is so important to get religion OUT of the schools and REAL SCIENCE and sex education back into it. If they really want to PROTECT THE CHILDREN, then how about giving them the educational tools for a change starting with sex-education. They need that one the most.

  • Indigo

    They did that to themselves. With luck, the young’uns will smarten up, move away, and the geezers will be left to fend for themselves in the geriatric daze. Karma does things like that sometimes.

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