As promised in our last Army report, today we are talking about sex. Comprehensive sex education that is.

In Economic Issues for Women in Texas, Texas Women’s Foundation has continued to focus on four building blocks of economic security: child care, health insurance, education and housing. These findings fuel our programming, community granting and also our advocacy. This spring, it included support for comprehensive sex education in Dallas ISD. Our support involved ongoing funding for the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens, a letter to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees in support of comprehensive sexuality education and our own Young Women’s Initiative led by an advisory council of young women from southern and western Dallas who are our guide on issues impacting their lives and opportunities. Sexuality is one of YWI’s five areas of focus and their guidance to us is: “Young women of color should be able to communicate with supportive friends and family about sex and sexuality. Conversations and knowledge should be fluent and factual, encouraging confidence in relationships and sexual activity. This must be backed by access to resources and education to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The words of YWI compelled TXWF to support the new curricula recommended by the Dallas ISD Student Health Advisory Committee following more than a year of material and policy review. Under the new, approved curricula, Dallas ISD will begin teaching age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education at the end of the sixth grade in core science classes rather than just in the health courses taught in the later years of middle school. Lessons will also be incorporated into required high school biology classes rather than just in the health course, which is optional. Parents will have the ability to opt-out of lessons.

On February 28, 2019, Dallas ISD trustees voted 6 – 1 to accept the new recommended comprehensive sexuality education curricula for grades 6 through 12. Lew Blackburn voted against and Joyce Foreman abstained. Please call and say THANK YOU and let them know that you support age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education for all students as a basis for healthy relationships and a successful future. FYI, this Board meeting went until nearly 2 a.m. – that is service!

As you have probably read, Dallas has long been noted as having one of the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rates. In some of our ZIP codes, it is more common for a teen to give birth than it is for her to receive a Bachelor’s degree. The new public awareness website, Talk About It Dallas, provides guidance for families to start a conversation around sexuality and relationships. Formed through a public/private partnership with the City of Dallas, this public awareness and education platform is based on a highly successful campaign in Milwaukee and was just launched earlier this year in Dallas. https://talkaboutitdallas.com/

Thank you for carrying the message that improving the lives of women and girls is good for Texas. Please share this Army of Advocates update with your friends and colleagues and help our Army grow!

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