The annual Reproductive Education report, including teen pregnancy rate and sexually transmitted diseases and infections, was presented to the Student Health Advisory Council during a recent meeting.
Overall, Lisa Platner, director of the Community Health Education Office at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of the Permian Basin, said Ector County’s picture is primarily positive with a decreased teen birth rate and increased and stable high school graduation rate.
However, Platner said there are still challenges such as rising STD rates, especially for HIV and syphilis and convincing parents to participate in various educational opportunities.
Platner said surveys have been sent to parents asking what they need and they’ve gotten just a handful back.
Obstetrician-gynecologist Elisa Brown said parents have a chance to review the curriculum at the beginning of every year.
The council also had a lengthy discussion about the way to inform the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees that the sex education information being presented to students applies to all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
For 2016, teen births were at 93 per 1,000 among girls 15 to 19 years old during the measurement period from 2007 through 2013. The national rate was 24 per 1,000, according to the Network of Care website.
For those girls, the graduation rate was 71 percent.
The high point for teen births was 99 per 1,000 in 2012. The high school graduation rate in 2012 was 70 percent.
In 2015, the birth rate was 96 per 1,000 and the graduation rate was 70 percent.
For 2013, the Chlamydia rate was 724.1 per 100,000, compared to 446.6 nationally, the Network of Care website shows.
During the 2017-18 school year, Texas Tech taught 1,676 seventh graders and 1,559 sophomores.
The curriculum comes from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and The Life Center.
Texas Tech’s curriculum is called Big Decisions. The Life Center uses M.Pact for elementary; Y.Wud.I for middle school; and No Gray for high school students.
Platner presented statistics showing that teen pregnancy is down, but sexually transmitted infections are rising.
Brown said some the teen pregnancy rate is declining due to changes in the entire country, but there is still more work to do. Brown added that the age of a teen’s first intercourse has been delayed and she can see a difference in attitudes from parents who come to see her with their children.
But Platner noted that “we are still in the Bible belt” and there is still pushback.
She said challenges for the future are having enough staff to educate students and getting direction from the school board on fielding questions about LGBT people.
Brown said the LGBT issue was brought up at the SHAC meeting, as it has been previously, because it comes up from students so much. She added that educators need to be able to tell students that the curriculum applies to everyone.
Brown said youngsters still have to protect themselves no matter what their sexual orientation is. She said teachers need awareness of the issue, as well.
Michael Neiman, SHAC liaison to the school board and district PE and health coordinator, said there are classes for boys and girls in fifth through eighth grades.
Boys and girls are separated for human growth and development classes in grades five through eight. Classes for ninth and 10th graders are co-ed, Neiman said.
Parents can choose what class their child goes to and whether they go to classes presented by The Life Center, Texas Tech, both or none. If a parent opts out, the child will be given an alternate assignment to work on, Neiman said.
On a separate topic, Neiman wants human growth and development subcommittee to review curriculum he found from Teacher pay teacher. It would update textbooks that from the 80s that are being used.