Texas Sen. Dan Patrick chairs the state senate’s prestigious public education committee. But when it comes to statesmanship, Patrick seems to reserve the professionalism only for those who agree with him.
Texas legislators have proposed new laws that would keep abortion providers and their “affiliates”—specifically, Planned Parenthood—from providing sex education curriculum in public schools.
This proposed legislation is a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. While Planned Parenthood does provide community education on family planning and sex, there’s no evidence that the organization has been, as lawmakers allege, secretly infiltrating schools with a pro-abortion agenda.
School districts in Texas choose their sex ed curriculum via a school health advisory committee (SHAC) made up of mostly parents. The vast majority of SHACs choose abstinence-only programs that discuss contraception in terms of failure rates and little else, though an increasing amount are choosing “abstinence-plus” programs, which include “basic, factual information about contraception and disease prevention,” according to a 2011 study from the Texas Freedom Network.
HB 1057 is the Texas House’s version of this law, while SB 521 is winding its way through the Senate. Each would impose intrusive, big government-style restrictions on Texas parents and SHAC members to choose the sex ed curriculum they feel is right for their individual districts. The proposed laws would also require that parents opt their children into the programs, putting the state’s most vulnerable students, who have little parental oversight, in serious danger of receiving no sex education at school whatsoever.
At a committee hearing on SB 521 earlier this month, state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), chair of the Public Education Committee and a conservative talk radio show host, heard public testimony about the bill, which he supports. As is frequently the case when children are involved, things got heated—mostly for Dan Patrick, who spent the afternoon sniping and even yelling at Texans who respectfully disagreed with him. Here’s what that looked like.