Texas public school districts alter sex education programs

This past year, several Texas school districts have implemented a new abstinence-plus program developed by the University of Texas Prevention Research Center (UTPRC) at Houston. The program is called “It’s Your Game … Keep It Real,” or IYG. IYG is both a classroom- and computer-based program specifically designed for middle school kids.

In 1995, then Gov. George W. Bush signed a bill that required all Texas schools to teach abstinence only curricula. At the time, this bill made Texas the third state to require abstinence only education.

The IYG program emphasizes and encourages abstinence; however, it also promotes the theory that the more teens know about sex, the longer they wait to have sex. IYG works toward “developing, implementing and disseminating fact-based human sexuality education in middle schools,” according to IYG’s mission and purpose statement.

The program is designed to “teach teens about their bodies, personal relationships, personal rules and sex while giving them the skills to grow into safe, responsible young adults,” according to the IYG’s website. IYG is separated into two programs: “It’s Your Game: Risk Reduction” and “It’s Your Game: Risk Avoidance.”

The former is a comprehensive program “grounded in theory” while the other “emphasizes the benefits of abstinence-until-marriage, individual and social benefits of marriage and incorporates elements of character development and future orientation,” according to IYG’s website.

Some people are enthusiastic about the possible effects of the program.

Senior Susan Hublein is a campus coordinator for GENAustin. As a campus coordinator, Hublein teaches middle school girls about puberty, positive body image and cultivating healthy relationships. GENAustin is geared specifically to elementary, middle and high school girls.

“One of the most shocking things [is that] in one of the schools I had to explain the difference between tampons and condoms,” Hublein said. “The fact that I had to explain the difference is frightening.”

As of now, districts in Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Plano and Houston as well as nine school districts and the KIPP charter school system in Harris County have adopted the curriculum, including Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.

Cy-Fair ISD began the curriculum at the end of October. Some parents have raised complaints about the explicit nature of IYG. On Facebook, there is a group called “Cy-Fair Parents Against Safer Sex-Ed for 7th & 8th Graders.” The parents feel IYG teaches children how to have safer sex, according to the page.

The program has an opt-out clause that allows parents to choose whether they want their child in the program. Texas requires that notice of sex education be given to parents, according to Guttmacher Institute.

Some parents do not agree with the opposition to the program.

“Me as a parent, I don’t mind this class as long as consent [from parents] is provided. This conversation should start early,” said Yvonne Johnson, mother of a sophomore at Cypress-Fairbanks High School. “I wish my daughter could have been in this program.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that the school district may drop seventh graders from the program.