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Promoting Responsible Sex

Education: Advocating Change


through School Health Advisory
Councils
Presented by:

Kathy Miller
President
Texas Freedom Network Education Fund

Texas Statistics Demonstrate the


Need for Comprehensive Sex Ed

Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the


nation (and the rate is rising) and the highest
rate of multiple births to teens.

The public costs of teen childbearing are


estimated to be at least $1 billion annually.

Texas has traditionally accepted more federal


abstinence-only money than any other state.

Texas teens taking risks


According to the Centers for Disease Control, 7
out of 10 high school seniors in Texas have had sex
at least once.

What kind of sex education do


Texans want?
-Information from 2010 TFNEF statewide poll of likely Texas
voters (conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research).

87% of young voters, ages 18-29, support teaching


comprehensive sex ed in public schools.
85% of Hispanics support teaching comprehensive sex ed in
public schools.

Sex Education 101


The

System
The Problem
One Solution

Sex Ed in Texas: Who decides?

Federal Government - Funding


Texas Legislature

Texas State Board of Education

Texas Education Code


Curriculum & Textbooks

Local School Districts


School Health Advisory Councils
School Boards, Superintendents,
District Policy

Classroom Teachers

Federal Funding

In 1996 Title V was authorized, creating funding for abstinence-only sex


education. During the last Obama budget, Title V was removed.
However, Title V was reinstituted in the recent health care reform
legislation, establishing $50 million in federal funding for abstinenceonly programs annually for the next five years.

President Obama and Congress created the Personal Responsibility


Education Program (PREP) this year. PREP offers $75 million annually
for comprehensive sex ed.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative is also a federal source of


funding for comprehensive sex ed, allowing for $178 million annually.

This means there is currently more funding for comprehensive sex ed


than for abstinence-only programs.

Texas has applied for funding from Title V and not from PREP or TPPI.
Only 5 states have not applied for PREP funding, including Texas.

State Law

Texas law requires schools to promote abstinence over any


other method of sexuality education.
Abstinence from sexual activity must always be presented as
the preferred choice of behavior in relationships for
unmarried persons of school age. What the law requires
and allows
Texas law does not prohibit other approaches to sexuality
education.
In 2009, the Legislature eliminated Health Education as a State
requirement for graduation. Local districts are permitted to
require Health Education as a local graduation requirement.
In 1995, the Legislature established School Health Advisory
Councils comprised of parents, educators and community
members, to advise local school boards on sex education policy.

The Current State of Sex Ed in


Texas Public Schools
Most Texas Students
receive no instruction
about human
sexuality apart from
promotion of sexual
abstinence.

Problems with Abstinence Only Programs


in Texas Schools

Sex ed materials regularly contain factual errors and


distortions about condoms and STDs.
Shaming and fear-based instruction are standard
means of teaching students about sexuality
Instruction on human sexuality often promotes
stereotypes and biases based on gender and sexual
orientation
Most Texas school districts do not receive consistent or
meaningful local input from their School Health
Advisory Councils (SHACs).

For more information on these findings: www.justsaydontknow.org

Factual Errors

Mistruths and Scare Tactics

Gender Stereotyping
Women need financial support and family commitment.
Men need domestic support and admiration.
- WAIT Training curriculum (used in 53 districts)

Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by


their relationships. Mens happiness and success hinge
on their accomplishments.
-Why kNOw? Curriculum (used in 21 districts)

Keeping it Straight
Instruction shall not represent homosexuality as a
normal or acceptable lifestyle. Homosexuality shall be
discussed in conjunction with education about sexually
transmitted diseases. Teachers shall provide information
of a factual nature only, and shall not explicitly discuss
homosexual practices. Students should be informed
that homosexual acts are illegal in Texas and
highly correlated with the transmission of AIDS.
Students shall be directed to seek value-oriented
information regarding homosexuality from their parents/
guardians.
-Edinburg ISDs Local Policy, 2006

Lack of SHAC
65% of Texas school districts reported that their
SHACs had not discussed the topic of sexuality
in the previous three years.

81% of school districts could not produce any


formal SHAC recommendations on sexuality
education instruction regardless of date.

25% of districts have no formal policy at all


governing sexuality education.

How can you be a


part of the solution?
School Health Advisory Councils: An
effective tool for bringing
comprehensive sex education to local
schools.

What is a SHAC?

A School Health Advisory Council is a community-based


advisory group that is managed by your local independent
school district. Any community member, including
parents, students, health professionals and faith leaders
can serve on a SHAC.

A SHAC makes recommendations to the School Board


regarding all elements of the coordinated school health
program.

The Law Regarding SHACs

Each school district is required to have a SHAC.

Contain a minimum of five members.

A majority of SHAC members must be parents of


students enrolled in the district.

Appoint a parent as chair or co-chair.

Meet at least four times per year.

Report directly to the school board at least once


annually with a detailed account of SHAC activities
and recommendations

SHAC Issues

Characteristics of SHACs

Every SHAC is different and reflects the


character of its school district and the
community members who serve.

Some SHACs are highly organized and have


been functioning for years (rare) and others are
just getting started, having difficulty finding
members and lack leadership. These
differences will have an impact on your ability
to serve on a SHAC, influence the agenda and
bring meaningful change to your district.

Membership the first step

Search for SHAC info on your local ISD website.


If you cant find it, call the school districts administrative
offices.
Gather information on current members and officers,
requirements for joining SHAC, meeting dates and
agendas, etc.
If your school district does not already have a SHAC, you
should ask the district to help you create one. (By starting
a SHAC, you are likely to automatically be a member!)
Apply for membership by asking current SHAC members,
particularly the Chair, how to join or apply for
membership.

Now youre IN

Most SHACs are broken into smaller committees that


focus on particular health topics.

Ideally you will join the committee that works on sex ed


curriculum and policy. Often they refer to this as teen
pregnancy prevention.

You might have to create this committee because it may


not exist.

Consider serving as the Chair so you can guide the focus


of the committee work.

Executive Committee they hold the


key

Most larger district SHACS have an Executive


Committee comprised of Chair, Vice Chair,
Secretary, Committee Chairs and other officers.

The Executive Committee sets the direction,


objectives and goals of the SHAC.

A key group to influence.

The District Administrator

The SHAC members elect a chairperson who works with


the school administrator in the district.

The school administrator attends and facilitates SHAC


meetings, keeps the superintendent informed and assists
in the development of reports to the school board.

This structure provides for an orderly flow of advice to


the school board.

It is important to work well with this school


administrator they can be an important ally.

Recommendations

The main function of a SHAC is to review


curriculum and make recommendations to the
School District Board of Trustees.

An individual or committee brings a


recommendation forward for the entire SHAC
approval. If the SHAC approves the
recommendation, it then presents it to the
Board.

The Board can choose to adopt or disregard


recommendations made by the SHAC.

The Goal

SHACs provide recommendations for


specific to changes and/or additions to the
schools health education curriculum or
instruction that impact the entire school
district, not just individual school
campuses.
Those recommendations can include
changes to sex education curricula and/or
policies for your district.

Getting to your Goal

SHACs work on many health issues. We have to


remember that sex ed is only one of them.
A successful SHAC member is a team player,
realizes that everyone is there for different
reasons and cooperates in achieving the overall
goal of a quality, comprehensive coordinated
school health program.
Identify key allies, build a coalition of
supporters, support others in their advocacy
goals.
BE PATIENT.

Building Support for


Comprehensive Sex Ed

Keep Comprehensive School Health in Mind: Remember, not


everyone is comfortable talking about sex ed. Before jumping
into this issue, go to a few SHAC meetings and engage members
on other issues dealing with school health.
Find or Bring Allies: Identify members of the SHAC who share
your commitment to comprehensive sex education and
encourage students and fellow citizens in your district who
share your concerns to join the SHAC. Share key information
regarding the need for more comprehensive sex ed with those
who are hesitant on the issue.
Know the Facts: Find out what programs, outside speakers and
sex ed curricula your district uses (the district administrator can
be helpful here). Learn which curricula are evidence based (see
resources at the end of this presentation).
Baby Steps: Identify concrete steps to improve sex education in
your district.

Resources
Teen Pregnancy and STI Statistics:

Office of Adolescent Health: www.hhs.gov/ophs/oah/


Sexuality Information and Education Council of the
United States: www.seicus.org

Sex Education Curricula Information:

Centers for Disease Control: Health Education


Curriculum Analysis Tools:
www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/hecat/index.htm
The Guide to Community Preventative Services:
www.thecommunityguide.org
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy:
www.thenationalcampaign.org

Other Resources
SHAC Information:
Texas Department of State Health Services:
www.dshs.state.tx.us/schoolhealth/
SHACGuide2007.pdf

General Information:
Texas Freedom Network: www.tfn.org
Just Say Dont Know a report by the Texas
Freedom Network Education Fund:
www.justsaydontknow.org
Advocates for Youth: www.advocatesforyouth.org

My Personal
Experience with the
AISD SHAC
Garrett Mize
Youth Advocacy Coordinator
Texas Freedom Network

Contacting the District


Find

your districts SHAC webpage


Not all districts have SHAC web
pages, so you may have to call the
districts main line.
Luckily, AISD has an easy to use
SHAC webpage.
The website listed the district
administrators contact information
and had links to membership
information.

Getting the Lay of the Land


Attending

your first meeting can be


intimidating.
A time to introduce yourself and talk
about the issues you are interested in.
A good time to learn about all of the
issues the SHAC is working on Be
observant
Dont be afraid to ask questions about
how the SHAC functions.

Take a Friend!
Do

you know someone who is also


passionate about this issue?
Attending with a friend helps to break
the ice and it gives you support.
When it comes time to talk about sex
ed, you know they are supporting you.

Becoming a trusted member


Attend

a few SHAC meetings


consistently.
Figure out the leadership structure.
Identify who may be an ally or
opponent on the topic of sex ed.
Demonstrate an interest in all topics.

Ways to address sex ed


Your

SHAC may have a schedule


Speak with the Executive Committee
members about putting sex ed review
on the agenda if it is not already there
Join the committee that focuses on
sex-ed, or create one
Bring it up during a SHAC meeting,
citing the issues and problems related
to teen pregnancy in your district

Evaluating Curriculum
HECAT:

Health Education Curriculum


Analysis Tool
http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/
hecat/pdf/HECAT_Module_SH.pdf
Have others analyze the curriculum
with the same tool

Preparing to make a
recommendation
If

the currently-used curriculum is


inappropriate or insufficient, begin
reviewing other curriculum.
Youll have to determine if your district
will support abstinence-plus or
comprehensive.
Review the new curriculum until you
find one that is medically accurate and
at least abstinence-plus.

Preparing to make a
recommendation
You

should also review your districts


policies regarding sex ed
There may be a policy in place that
requires the curriculum to be
abstinence-only, or a policy that
prohibits discussion of contraceptives
Your district administrator or health
expert may be able to help you find
these policies

Making a recommendation
Procedurally,

a majority of SHAC
members must vote to approve a
recommendation to the Board
Ask the Chair to put a vote one the
agenda, or make a motion to vote on
making a recommendation. Youll
want to make sure someone will
second your motion.

Making a recommendation
You

can move that the SHAC vote on


recommending two things:
The

adoption of a new curriculum to


be used / the discontinuation of
current curriculum
The adoption or discontinuation of
new district policies

Making a recommendation
If

the SHAC approves your motion,


and votes with a majority to make a
recommendation, the executive
committee and district administrator
will take the recommendation to the
next Board meeting.
The Board may accept or ignore the
recommendation.

Baby Steps

If your SHAC isnt ready to adopt a more comprehensive


curriculum, here are some steps you can take:
utilize qualified classroom teachers to teach sex ed and
ensure they receive necessary training.
only utilize curricular materials from reputable sources
that ensure medical accuracy and appropriate content.
all guest speakers and sexuality education presentations
provided by outside groups and individuals be vetted by
the SHAC.
only use materials in sex ed classes and/or curriculum
that has been approved and vetted by the SHAC.
SHAC involvement in drafting the letter sent to parents by
the district regarding sex ed.
begin the process of re-evaluating the current sex ed
curriculum used in your district.

Contact Texas Freedom


Network

Texas Freedom Network is here to help you


every step of the way!

Please contact Judie Niskala, Outreach


Coordinator, with questions at any time.
Email: judie@tfn.org Phone: 512-322-0545

SHAC information is also listed on our website:


www.tfn.org.