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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abstinence-only "sex education" did not work in Texas schools when we went through them (in the 1880s). And abstinence-only sex education isn't working now. It's a joke almost as big as a certain former guv of Alaska, but at least some Texas school districts are beginning to recognize that.

There are few states where the Southern Baptists are more powerful than in Texas, and the Southern Baptists have been resolutely opposed to giving teenagers actual facts about their raging sexuality, including actual information about how to prevent pregnancy. On the other hand, the Southern Baptists have been extremely effective in forcing abstinence-only on public schools. Not to mention the federal government. Under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the feds spent $1.3 billion (billion) on the abstinence-only fairy tale. The result? A soring teen pregnancy rate, especially in God-blessed Texas, which
has the third-highest teen birth rate in the country and the highest percentage of teen mothers giving birth more than once.

The rate of student pregnancies in Austin high schools has increased 57 percent since the 2005-06 school year, and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising among Travis County teens.

At least some Texas school districts (urban ones to be sure) are changing direction to combat such dismal statistics. For country school districts, where going to the football game and screwing under the bleachers constitute the standard teenager Friday night, well, they're not going to feel so free.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ah, Texas 

Reader Jeff sent me this essay by James Moore about the current movement toward secession in Texas, a flirtation with treason led by that state's governor (and towering cathedral of sapience), Rick Perry.

James Moore is one of our favorite Texas authors, now that Molly Ivins is no more with us. He co-authored "Bush's Brain" about that other towering monument of self-aggrandisement, Karl Rove. It was in that book that I learned that Karl Rove and I shared Salt Lake City at the same time, he an aspiring Young Republican at Highland High School while I was studying Milton and English revolutionaries at the University of Utah. We turned out differently. He's rich.

Moore's little essay about some recent history of Texas separationists and the current Republican psychosis (it's called "defeat," guys) flooded me with my own memories of growing up in the Lone Star State, where most male babies seem to be born with a swagger and an innate drive to over-compensate.

Texans will talk to complete strangers. They almost prefer strangers, especially when delivering proclamations of intolerance. I was catching a plane in Houston once, and a gentleman in regulation Texas-wear -- a big white cowboy hat, boots, leather jacket (I'm NOT making this up) -- turned to me from the next seat over, asked, "Where bound?" I replied, "Washington, D.C." He snorted. "Whole place needs to be nuked," he said, and though the extravagance of that prescription seemed to invite laughter, you could tell from the steeliness of his gaze and the total lack of humor in his affect, that he totally and completely meant it.

For the next 30 minutes and until my flight was called, thankfully, he outlined a typical Texan's beef not just with the national government but pretty much with all government. I didn't argue with him. I mainly nodded and said "That so?" the way you'd converse with a meth addict playing with a gun.

In the household I grew up in, my father made fun of Texas dudes like that one, though he worked for them all his life, guys with big booming voices and big ideas and big egos. My father knew they called the shots, but they were just larger-than-usual pissants when the door was closed.

My political science teacher while I was still in Texas once told me, when the topic turned to Lyndon Baines Johnson and his whole history of chicanery, which was well known in Texas, "Son, given the choice between an outright crook and a complete idiot, Texans will always choose the crook."

In the case of Rick Perry, they apparently went with the idiot, and a larger-than-usual pissant.

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