At the Last Minute, Texas Spikes Federal Sex Education Funding ... Again
Condoms, birth control -- who needs 'em? Just don't have sex, Texas says to its horny teens. Just hobble that unbridled desire coupled with a limited understanding of consequences and say 'No, I'm saving myself for marriage.'
That's pretty much the message, maybe paired with an infographic demonstrating where the penis goes. Nah, that's too pornographic.
If you've ever been a teenager, you know it doesn't work. Especially here. Our kids are reproducing like oily, awkward bunnies. We're the third-worst for teen birth rates for girls 15 to 19, and the ever-lovin' worst for total teen births. They're expensive too: Teen moms cost $1 billion a year.
So it's dismaying to see that the state has, once again, chosen to turn its nose up at federal funding for sex ed, choosing instead to believe that our little princesses will not succumb to temptation. According to emails obtained by the Texas Freedom Network, the child support division of the state Office of the Attorney General had, in concert with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a reproductive health specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine, the Texas Education Agency, the state Higher Education Coordinating Board and other nonprofits, prepared an application for the grant, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by Greg Abbott's office.
Says one email from the OAG's child support division to Health and Human Services, "I wanted to let you know, regrettably, that the Texas Attorney General's Office will not be sending an application for the [Personal Responsibility Education Program] funding...we had it ready to go and it was pulled at the last minute."
In an email to the Higher Education Board, the official wrote, "I'm very sorry to have wasted your time and effort on this...it's certainly not the way I wanted to start working with the Higher Ed. Board."
In another, the official describes his office as "a bit miffed," though nowhere in the emails is a reason given for why the OAG would choose to scrap the grant application right before it was to be submitted.
The official heading up the OAG's division of child support services didn't respond as of this posting, but a spokesman for the OAG tells Unfair Park that the funding came with "too many strings attached," and that it was apparently "too cumbersome to be effectively implemented."
But even the Alabama Department of Public Health -- not exactly a liberal bastion -- found a way to use nearly $800,000 to educate its populace on safe sex practices. In Texas, only a couple of school districts and the University of Texas system have taken advantage of the money.
Back in 2010, the Department of State Health Services prepared an application for $4.4 million in sex-ed funding, only to see it tossed. A spokeswoman told the Texas Tribune that the decision was made by the state Health and Human Services executive commissioner, and that "the governor's office was part of that discussion."
Instead, they applied for an abstinence-only grant. Tough to tell if Gov. Rick Perry weighed in this time around, fearing, perhaps, that engaging in real talk with our teens would tarnish his otherwise impeccable Christian conservative credentials in the Republican primary. The OAG spokesman said he was not aware what sort of input Perry had in the decision.