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No federal sex ed money for Texas

Stay ignorant, kids. It’s what the state of Texas wants you to do.

At the end of the summer, Texas quietly opted to forgo yet another pot of federal money — specifically, $4.4 million that would have gone toward educating youth on abstinence and contraception to prevent teen pregnancy.

The Department of State Health Services began drafting the application for the Personal Responsibility Education Program funds, but the decision was made not apply before the Aug. 30 deadline. Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for DSHS said, “The [Health and Human Services] Executive Commissioner [Tom Suehs] made the final decision, and the governor’s office was part of that discussion.”

“This is yet another example of politics dominating policy in the governor’s office,” said state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio. “Unfortunately, the governor’s re-election campaign theme of running against Washington has, yet again, hampered our ability to access much needed funds to overcome very real challenges that our state is facing.”

[…]

Dr. Janet Realini, the president and CEO of Healthy Futures of Texas, a nonprofit geared toward “reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy,” said that mission would be easier with the “evidence-based” education programs the PREP money would have funded. “I feel this is a great loss for the state,” she said. “This is a huge amount of money, and there’s such a need for these programs in Texas.”

DSHS did apply for $5.4 million in federal funding for abstinence-only education. “Applying for this funding is in line with state goals and strategies,” Williams said, noting that the state’s “first choice is that teens choose not to have sex.” In an e-mail, she said the abstinence-only funds would have been lost to other states, whereas the state’s decision not to apply for the PREP funding opens the door for individual communities to apply for the money directly “if it meets the needs/values in their communities.”

Texas is of course one of the nation’s capitals of teen pregnancy. If our idiotic focus on abstinence-only education produced better results, it would be different, but we’ve spent millions and millions of dollars on it and have nothing but a lot of babies being born to children to show for it. What a waste.

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