The Abstinence Advocate Who Will Oversee American Sex Education

Valerie Huber has been appointed by the Trump administration as the chief of staff for the Department of Health and Human Services.

What is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for? 

"HHS administers more than 100 programs in medicine, public health, and social services. The department also oversees the Office of Adolescent Health, which is the main area of concern for advocates of comprehensive sex education. The office conducts research and training on preventing teen pregnancy and STDs".

Before appointment, Huber worked as the CEO for the organization Ascend.  Ascend promotes the traditional approach of sex education through abstinence or sexual risk avoidance. Huber is also known for supporting the program "Choosing the Best". This program is geared towards juniors and seniors in high school with the goal of "asking students to take a commitment and abstinence pledge".  Huber's stance "that mainstream culture normalizes premarital sex and contraceptives" shows her support for abstinence only education. 

When analyzing data from states that provide abstinence only sex education, it is clear that states with traditional approaches to sex education are ineffective in reducing teen birth rates.  For example, Texas is one of the states with abstinence only programs as the main form of sex education and the teen pregnancy rates are among the highest in the nation.  It is clear that " Huber's aversion toward comprehensive sex education ignores national data". 

Here at More Than Sex-ed, we promote open and honest dialogue about the state of sexual education.  Although we believe it is healthy for teens to postpone sexual intercourse, abstinence only education is ineffective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates.  When analyzing the available data, it is obvious that comprehensive sex education is more effective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates.   



Texas lawmakers fail to take action on skyrocketing pregnancy-related deaths

Facts matter. At More Than Sex-Ed we strive for frank discussion based on the best available data. Legislative policy in Texas has reduced women's access to reproductive health care with deadly results. It's time for those legislators to step up for child-bearing Texans who lack the care they need.

Researchers at University of Maryland conducted a study that found Texas' rate of " maternal mortality rate doubled between 2010 and 2012."

A task force was assembled in 2013 to identify and combat the reasons for the increase.  Lisa Hollier, the chairwoman of the committee, explains that part of the reason for the rise in maternal mortality rates are due to cardiac related problems.  Unfortunately, Hollier notes that there are still no solid "intervention programs" that addresses the problem.  

Republican Senator, Lois Kolkhorst and Democrat State Rep. Shawn Thierry both proposed different ways to confront the issue.  Senator Kolkhorst introduced legislation that would continue Hollier's task force until 2023.  This would allow more in depth analysis of pregnancy related deaths by teams of specialists.  Due to time restraints, Senator Kolkhorst's legislation must wait until next session.  

State Rep. Thierry had a different approach to address the " skyrocketing rate of pregnancy-related deaths" in Texas by focusing on a key finding of the task force.  The task force had discovered that Black women were more vulnerable to pregnancy related deaths.  Rep. Thierry hoped to "compare the risk of black women in different income brackets".  Unfortunately for Rep. Thierry, her proposal was dismissed.  


NPR : In Texas, Abstinence-Only Programs May Contribute To Teen Pregnancies


"Research shows teens everywhere are having sex, with about half of high school students saying they've had sexual intercourse. Gwen Daverth, CEO of the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says the high numbers in Texas reflect policy, not promiscuity. "

A majority of high schools in Texas provide abstinence only sex education or "doesn't offer sexual education at all".  The results from Texas policy translate into some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in America.  Although teen birth rates are declining across the country, states that favor abstinence as the main form of sexual education are seeing a slower decline.  This NPR program gives context on the issue through Jessica Chester's experience.