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Texas: Opposition Not Game for ‘Keeping It Real’
By Emily Ike, SIECUS Program Research Intern

The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District1 in Houston, Texas has adopted a new sexual health education curriculum for middle school students, It's Your Game, Keep It Real, to mixed reactions from parents. This two-year program is designed for seventh and eighth grade students, and uses videos, online activities, and other materials to discuss abstinence and contraceptives as methods to prevent pregnancy, as well as discussing sexually transmitted infections. The program was developed by public health specialists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Cypress-Fairbanks' Board of Education unanimously approved the use of It's Your Game at a summer meeting, following approval by a review committee that included local parents. Rollout was scheduled for October 2012. This did not stop some parents from voicing objections at the board's October meeting.

"It is shocking to me when I sit and look at this and find myself having to tell my 12 year old some of these concepts," said Mindy Lucas, parent of a seventh grade student.2 Parent Mayte Weitzman was equally vehement: "When we get into the details of these very inappropriate lessons with the different types of sex, that belongs in the home with our moral values…They're teaching them oral, anal and vaginal sex. They're teaching them all kinds of sex. They're not focusing on the abstinence."3

However, not all parents feel that seventh and eighth grade is too early to start speaking with students about sexual health. "Children now a days [sic] are having babies at 12 and 13 so they need to know," argued Tanya Manjarrez. "We have to give them that info. They need to be aware as much as it may hurt us, but they need to be aware."4

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found It's Your Game effective at delaying sexual activity in low-income, urban African American and Hispanic youth.5 The conservative Women of Grace blogger Susan Brinkmann, however, tarred it as "[a] sex ed program that is being presented to parents as focused on healthy relationship strategies and risk reduction strategies that have been proven to delay sexual behavior [but] turns out to be a curriculum that does little more than encourage sexual activity".6 Brinkmann thus unwittingly admitted that the program has been proven to delay sexual activity while decrying it for supposedly promoting the exact opposite, and further confused matters by labeling It's Your Game as a Planned Parenthood curriculum.

Texas has the nation's fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate,7 and Houston in particular has alarmingly high rates of new cases of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.8 In an October 12th letter to parents, school district Superintendent Mark Henry said that the local School Health Advisory Council recommended delaying the It's Your Game until 2013. This decision limits instruction for 7th grade students to 'risk avoidance' (abstinence), peer pressure, refusal skills, and goal setting. Henry confirmed that sexuality education for 7th graders would continue to meet the science requirements mandated by the state of Texas, and that delaying It's Your Game for one year will give the Advisory Council more time to review it.9


1Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District web site, accessed 15 October 2012, <http://www.cfisd.net/ >.

2"Controversy Brewing Over Cy Fair ISD Sex Ed Program," ABC13 Eyewitness News Houston, 8 October 2012, accessed 10 October 2012, <http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=8839820 >.

3 Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Susan R. Tortolero et. al, "It's Your Game. Keep It Real: Delaying Sexual Behavior with an Effective Middle Shool Program," Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2010, accessed 10 October 2012, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818029/>.

6Susan Brinkmann, "Planned Parenthood's 7th Grade Sex Ed Program Features Talking Condoms," Women of Grace, 8 October 2012, accessed 17 October 2012, <http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=16775>

7 Kathryn Kost, et al., U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, 2010, accessed 24 October 2012, <http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf>.

8 "Houston STD Statistics," STD Testing Houston, 2012, accessed 15 October 2012, <http://www.stdtestinghouston.com/houston-std-statistics>.

9Mark Bailey, "CFISD Delays New Sex-Ed Program for Further Review," Cypress Creek Mirror, 2 November 2012, accessed 12 November 2012, <http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/cypresscreek/news/cfisd-delays-new-sex-ed-program-for-further-review/article_7cd46044-c1c2-5517-956e-47bdfb65603f.html>

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