New Law Requires Dating Violence And Sex Abuse Education For Kids

By Rick Gonzales | 5 months ago

sex education law

In what has been hailed as a big win in Texas by some, school districts in the state are now required to teach students in middle school and high school about family violence, child abuse, dating violence, and sex trafficking. This new sex education law went into effect in early December, but it didn’t come without controversy and now it has hit a big road block.

The original version of the bill, Senate Bill 1109, was passed by a 29-2 vote in the Texas Senate but ended up being vetoed by Governor Greg Abbott in June. According to Gov. Abbott’s website, he vetoed the bill because of concerns that it wasn’t allowing for parental involvement.

Gov. Abbott stated that he feels that though providing instruction “regarding the prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence” are important subjects, “the bill fails to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.” It was this vetoing of the sex education law that has some advocates concerned that the kids who most need the information, may likely now not get it.

“To say that I was shocked with the governor vetoed this bill is an understatement,” said Grand Prairie Assistant Police Chief Ronnie Morris.  It was Morris who, along with State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, crafted the original bill. After Gov. Abbott voiced his opinion, eventually vetoing it, they went back to work on a revised bill that included the language Abbott required.

Gov. Abbot’s office, through his press secretary Renae Eze, said in a statement to The Texas Tribune, “There were good intentions in [the original bill] but the bill failed to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.”

“Having been signed into law by the Governor,” the statement continued, “middle school and high school students will now receive instruction on the prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence while ensuring the rights of parents in their child’s education.” The revised sex education law was passed by legislators during a second special session.

“But the reality is that I can’t pass the bill without having that opt-in,” said West. “And so I think the greater good is served by passing the compromise bill with the governor to make sure we touch as many lives as possible.”

Therein lies the rub. With parents now required to sign a permission slip allowing their children to be educated on these sensitive subjects, it raises concern that some children who are currently experiencing abuse from a parent may not get the proper information they need to help them.

On the flipside, there’s a big push right now to protect the rights of parents to control what their children learn because, after all, they are their kids. Abbot’s decision leans into that current movement towards parental rights and is being hailed as a victory by those advocates.

The new sex education law, also known as the “Christine Blubaugh Act”, gets its name from a 16-year-old girl who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in Grand Prairie, Texas in 2000. It was Morris who, as a young police officer, responded to the crime scene.

“That was very impactful to me and has stuck with me to this day,” Morris said via WFAA News.

Dawn Blubaugh-Inocencio is Christine’s twin sister and she said as a teenager, there was nothing about her sister’s relationship or break up that made her think her sister was in any danger. “None of us knew the signs to look for,” Blubaugh-Inocencio said to WFAA News. “None of us knew to ask for help. She didn’t even know.”

Blubaugh-Inocencio then went on to explain that it wasn’t until after her sister was killed that some friends finally came forward saying that Christine had come to them saying she was being physically abused by her boyfriend. But Blubaugh-Inocencio is not holding anyone at fault.

“It’s not their fault,” she said. “They didn’t know what to do with it.”

Supporters say that’s what makes this bill so important to all involved. “If you’re 25 to 30 years old and you’re going through this and you’re struggling with it, how in the world can we expect a 13-year-old or 14-year-old who just got their first boyfriend or girlfriend to work through those things and be able to come out the other side safely?” Morris said.

Morris feels teaching kids how to recognize the sometimes subtle signs of abuse, whether it be under the home roof or in a romantic relationship, is just as important as the other courses and drills now being taught in schools. Many growing parents groups, however, believe they should decide what’s important to their kids, not Chief Morris or the Texas government.

“Our kids receive instruction on bullying,” Morris insists. “They receive instruction on CPR, how to interact with law enforcement. They receive instruction on active shooters in their schools. All of these things are things our kids need to know, but they’re all far less likely to occur than dating violence and domestic violence for teenagers in public schools.”

As the new education law is written, children will get one session of the information in middle school and then again twice in high school. But the trick now is to make sure parents sign the permission slips. They know now, having to obtain parents’ permission may allow for some to fall through the cracks.

Lawmakers and educators alike know that some parents may not care to have their child educated about child abuse. Supporters of the bill are characterizing parents who opt out of the instruction as possible perpetrators in an attempt to pressure parents into signing the permission slip. There may also be parents out there who do not wish to admit that their own child could become a victim of dating violence. However the reality is that some parents would simply rather teach their kids about these sensitive topics on their own, without the need for government interference.

“This bill is meant to save lives of kids,” Morris said.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation and needs help, there are plenty of resources available. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, or visit TheHotline.Org.