What students learn in sex ed has taken on new urgency following the Supreme Court’s decision in June to reverse Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion access up to the states. And as the Texas Republican Party takes aim at what kids learn in school, that dynamic is front and center for many advocates.

Research indicates that comprehensive sexual education leads teens to delay intercourse and avoid unplanned pregnancy. Most states, however, do not require schools to teach comprehensive sex ed, and new policy proposals and legislation in some states may limit the curricula already offered to students.

The Texas GOP’s official 2022 platform, released last week, would ban“teaching of sex education, sexual health, or sexual choice or identity in any public school” and enforce policies embraced by anti-abortion movements, such as having students observe live ultrasounds and requiring schools to teach that life begins at fertilization. Students would also have to read a booklet that contained medically false risks about abortion.

Gaps in sex ed instruction in Texas and around the country could have life-changing impacts for students. This includes sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies they can’t legally terminate that make them vulnerable to quitting school and living in poverty.

“Programs that don’t include high quality, inclusive sex ed are really harmful to young people,” said Gillian Sealy, chief of staff at Power to Decide, the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy. “We anticipate that [the Supreme Court] ruling will have a negative impact on young people. We really want young people to be able to finish school; we want them to get an education.”

While elected officials don’t have to implement their parties’ platforms, Republican lawmakers in Texas could attempt to reframe the curriculum based on the newly released GOP agenda, sex ed proponents contend.

“It’s absolutely possible,” said Elizabethe Payne, a former Houston teacher and the founder and director of the Queering Education Research Institute, which works to create LGBTQ+ youth-affirming schools. “Texas education policy has always been impacted by the conservative right. These ideas all have been percolating for a number of decades in the state.”

Read the full article about sex education by Nadra Nittle at The 74.