West Texas School Administrators See Literally No Connection Between Their Choice Of Sex Education And Teen Pregnancy Rates

This week is the release of the latest Mary Russell novel, Pirate King, a vintagey, feministy series that posits: what would happen if Sherlock Holmes had a brilliant young female protegé (and later, wife) with whom he solved cases of political and social intrigue? They’re some fine reading, and I’m already deep into the latest edition. And so I’m going to use my detective wiles to sift through this article from CBS-7 in West Texas about area educators continuing to choose abstinence-only curriculum despite the fact that our state has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

I wonder if there’s anything here that can clue us into why teen pregnancy rates in Texas are so high?

Of course abstinence is the only sure way to protect yourself from pregnancy,” explains Abstinence Educator Ed Ainsworth. Despite high teen pregnancy numbers, some schools aren’t ready to change they way they teach sex education.

I mean so, Abstinence Educator Ed Ainsworth isn’t lying. Abstinence is a good way to prevent pregnancy! Probably we should stop doing all that teaching kids about condoms and contraception and tell them about this abstinence thing, then it will all work out! The problem is that they don’t know about abstinence! Oh, wait.

While many West Texas school districts, including Midland and Ector County, have changed their sex education program to one that includes information about contraceptives and birth control, others are sticking to what they know. Now parents in Kermit are the ones hearing the “abstinence only” message.

Oh, okay, so they already teach abstinence-only education. Except it is clearly ineffective. Maybe it’s that the parents in Kermit, TX haven’t heard about abstinence. I mean, they’re parents, after all. Clearly they could use some tips on not having kids.

He’s been on Dr. Phil, MTV and now he’s in Kermit, Texas. Ed Ainsworth travels the country talking to students about abstinence. But tonight’s presentation was for parents in Kermit ISD, giving them an inside look at the message their kids will hear later this week.

WHAT? HE’S BEEN ON DR. PHIL AND MTV? Jesus Christ, this man must be some kind of Rhodes Scholar. There could be literally no one in the world more qualified to talk about sex than a man who has appeared on both Dr. Phil and MTV. Who could possibly have more reliable, medically sound information about sex than him? A doctor? A licensed nurse practitioner? Pishposh.

“As a parent we all hope our kids wait until they get married,” claims parent and Student Health Advisory Council president Sheila Michel. And at school these parents hope that’s the message their kids hear. So they’re bringing in Ed Ainsworth.

Nobody turns the chair around and gets real with the kids like Ed Ainsworth. I mean look at the guy! Put this man in a Hot Topic with a bunch of 15 year olds and it’s like Where’s Fucking Waldo. Sure, last year the kids were emulating Justin Bieber and Rihanna, but this year, everyone’s getting “The Ed” look.

“I’m not a sex educator…there’s a difference. It’s the parents job to tell their kids about the biological and physiological aspect of sex,” Ainsworth says. That’s why Ainsworth focuses his message on abstinence, encouraging students to wait until marriage before having sex.

Look, it’s the parents’ job to teach their kids about reproductive science, and some old white male stranger’s job to tell them what to do with their bodies and why. That’s why talking to kids about actual sex has always been so easy for parents, and teaching them about religion is always so hard and awkward. I mean at my house, it was “Daddy gets an erection and Mommy’s vagina moistens, and he puts his penis inside her until he emits semen in what is called an ‘orgasm,’ and then Mommy conceives a baby,”  all the time! If only once Jesus had been mentioned at the dinner table, things would have been so much easier.

Gotta get Ed on this one.

“I approach it from a simple perspective, that when you keep sex in marriage and abstain, it protects you physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially,” he says. Michel says Kermit ISD has used his program before, and claims the students seem to relate with Ainsworth and feel comfortable asking him questions. “Questions that I don’t think a child would want to ask their parents.”

Ah, yes. The financial advantages of abstinence. Ed Ainsworth, it’s like you actually speak teenager! Ed Ainsworth, are you actually a teenager? You are, aren’t you?

Ainsworth uses personal testimonials in his curriculum, reading letters he’s received from teenagers across the country. “It’s the voice of students somewhere calling to these kids ‘hey make a better choice than you’re thinking about because of these consequences”

Nothing like vague voices “of students somewhere” to inspire teenagers to not do the single most interesting thing possible they can think of. Also, what consequences? You mean, consequences like teen pregnancy? Is that a consequence of having sex?

School administrators say, despite the high teen pregnancy numbers, Kermit ISD is not ready for an abstinence plus curriculum. “He has such a powerful message, not only when talking to kids about abstinence, he goes a step further, explaining the ramifications of what would happen,” Michel claims.

So, Ed Ainsworth teaches that a consequence of not being abstinent is teen pregnancy. There are high teen pregnancy rates at Kermit ISD. Educators, however, believe that what kids need more of is more information about abstinence, which is the only kind of information they have ever gotten, ever. Except here’s the amazing thing: Ed Ainsworth actually explains to these kids, whose friends and peers are pregnant, that pregnancy is a consequence of not being abstinent! People, you cannot put a price on this kind of education. I mean, it’s “powerful!”

School administrators would not tell us the number of pregnant girls in the district, but did say that figure has nothing to do with why they chose an abstinence only curriculum.
At the end of the meeting, parents were given the option to sign a form and “opt” their child out of the program.

Because really, why would the number of pregnant students have anything to do with the program used to educate students about how pregnancy happens? In what universe would it make sense to draw a correlation between the number of pregnant students and the kind of sex education they’re getting? Explain us that one, CBS-7, you nosy assholes. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

Midland and Ector County ISD SHAC members both say they believe changing to abstinence plus sex education is one way to lower high teen pregnancy numbers in their district.

Well! They’ll learn in the end, won’t they? Everyone knows the second you tell kids about condoms, they immediately fuck the next three people they meet. Kids who’ve never heard of condoms stay home and knit. With remarkably fecund needles, apparently.

If these school administrators are trying to say that teen pregnancy rates have nothing to do with their decision making on sexual eduction programs, they may as well be saying that teen pregnancy rates are not related to sex. That they’re related to, I don’t know, hamburgers. And if they’re saying that, there’s no reason not to have actual sex education programs, because obviously teen pregnancy has nothing to do with anything except teen pregnancy, and it happens in a vacuum. If the educators said you know what, we just need to buckle down on abstinence-only education because our teen pregnancy rates are really high, I would say fine, you people are stupid and your solution blows but at least you acknowledge that there’s a problem. These people are saying that the incredibly high rates of actual consequences to teen sex have nothing to do with their teen sex prevention tactics.

(I guess I should say that I rather think that teen pregnancy is not something abstinence-only education proponents truly want to prevent in any meaningful way, and the statements in this CBS-7 piece are great examples of how the thinking manifests. To Ainsworth-style religious types, the only thing preferable to abstinence is marriage with kids, and if you teach teenagers about condoms and sex positivity, there’s a good chance they’ll just have some fun sex, delay marriage, maybe delay kids permanently, and move on to do things besides pop out babies and head to church four times a week. There’s a chance they may decide to listen to rock and roll music and wear blue jeans and drink Coca-Cola, and then where will the world be? At least if young women are getting pregnant, the thinking goes, they’ll be forced to get married or at least settle their slutty asses down.)

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in abortion, education, feminism, health care, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, media, news, parenting, politics, relationships, religion, reproductive health, socioeconomics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to West Texas School Administrators See Literally No Connection Between Their Choice Of Sex Education And Teen Pregnancy Rates

  1. DK says:

    Ed, what happens after marriage? Or what if you’re gay?

  2. Linda B. says:

    Andrea—You Nailed It!! I grew-up in western Pa amoungst the religious right, thank God I escaped! I shake my head every day at the ignorance, hypocricy, and intollerance displayed.

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