Will proposed sex ed bill decrease Valley teen pregnancy rates?

Some Texas lawmakers have filed a bill that would require schools to provide information on contraceptives and emphasize the importance of abstinence as the only foolproof way to avoid disease and pregnancy.

It's a touchy subject.

"Condoms...spermicides," said Julio Alaniz.

"Pregnancy or an STD," said Myrna Franco.

Some schools just don't go there.

"We pretty much had to learn either on our own from our own experiences or our parents," said Monica De Leon.

The state doesn't require public schools to teach sex education, but the House and Senate has introduced a bill that would require schools teaching sex education to emphasize the importance of abstinence and provide information about contraceptives.

Clara Contreras with Region 1's health program said that abstinence is the foolproof way of preventing pregnancy and STDs, but abstinence-only programs alone won't necessarily decrease the Rio Grande Valley's teen pregnancy rates.

"If every child was abstinent sure, we wouldn't have any pregnancies, but that is not the case," said Contreras.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Hidalgo and Cameron County have higher rates than the national teen pregnancy rate. According to the latest statistics released, in 2005 the national teen pregnancy rate was 21.4.

That same year, Hidalgo County had a 58.1 rate and Cameron County had 54.4.

In 2007, that rate rose to 77.7 for both counties.

"If we are going to prevent this we need to provide opportunities for youth. we need to support them. We need to empower them. We need to provide boundaries and expectations," said Contreras.

"I remember even in middle school, I was in 8th grade and there was already a pregnant girl or two," said Julio Alaniz.

Alaniz said the only way to prevent teen pregnancy is educating both girls and boys on how to prevent it including the use of condoms.

"A lot of people think that schools talk about condoms and contraceptives, and I don't think it happens, and that's why we have the school advisory council," said Contreras.

The council is a group of parents and community members that meet and determine what health topics will be taught at school.

The bill would not take away power from the school health advisory council, it just requires that curriculum that they suggest for sex education include an emphasis on abstinence and information on contraceptives.

To read the bill click here.