Ector County Drops Contraception Curriculum

11-16-05 - Students in Ector County schools won't be getting any more lessons on contraception as part of the school district's abstinence-only-based sexual education program.

The Ector County Independent School District board of trustees voted 4-3 Tuesday night to discontinue the one-day contraception lesson, which came at the end of the sexual education program. The lesson had been taught for two years with parental consent.

"Our curriculum, if I can say this, was a liberal description of contraceptives," L.V. "Butch" Foreman, who was the swing vote, said in a story in Wednesday's Odessa American. "It was a little explicit."

Before the vote, Foreman asked to amend a motion to have the board follow the advice of the School Health Advisory Council, which favored teaching contraception. He said he was trying to find some middle ground between the board members who wanted no contraception curriculum and those who wanted it to stay the same. But the amended motion wasn't accepted.

Foreman said it was important that school curriculum follow TEKS _ the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Under TEKS, schools are required to "analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods including the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, keeping in mind the effectiveness of remaining abstinent until marriage."

Before the vote was taken, the Rev. Terry Pierce of the First Church of the Nazarene encouraged the board to drop the contraception instruction.

"We cannot teach abstinence and contraception," said Pierce, who got a standing ovation from the crowd of about 100 people at the board meeting. "They contradict each other."

Dr. Matthew Furst asked the board to continue the instruction.

"We have a body of information that can help protect our children," Furst said. "As adults, if we withhold that information, and they go out and get an STD, we're responsible for that."

Ector County school officials also plan to add a bible class to the high school curriculum in fall 2006. It will be taught as an elective history or literature course.