Instruction in public schools about the development of an unborn child could soon be required by state law.
The current iteration of the curriculum standards for Texas public schools—the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which are established and periodically revised by the State Board of Education—includes instruction about the development of an unborn child in its mother’s womb. One lawmaker wants to incorporate that requirement into state law.
During a hearing of the Senate Education Committee, State Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) explained Senate Bill 410, which would require public school students in grades 7 and 8 to receive instruction on a number of topics related to fetal development, including “the human reproductive process,” “the establishment of healthy life skills,” “the prevention of birth defects,” and “a description of the growth and development of an unborn child that occur during each trimester of pregnancy.”
“Every human life traces its beginning to the moment of conception,” stated Paxton. “Establishing fetal development in the health curriculum equips Texas students to more fully understand the human development process and how their actions affect … the developing child. Such instruction will help all of our Texas kids make better decisions relating to their health and perhaps their own children in the future.”
According to the latest statistics, Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country. In 2020, the state averaged 22.4 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19.
Lori Kuykendall, the president of Beacon Health Education Resources, said the bill would strengthen the State Board of Education’s new health TEKS by requiring students to learn about “awesome anatomy and the miracle of life.” She also pointed out that the subject matter of this legislation would fall under the new requirement in state law for parents to explicitly opt in for instruction on human sexuality for their children.
Deborah Simmons, a Central Texas mom and advocate for parental rights, observed that elementary students in Texas public schools learn about how tadpoles develop into frogs, and she argued they should also learn about the earliest days of human life.
“Our kids today go to school and see in social media that everything’s fluid,” she explained. “They have no boundaries, they have no guidelines, they don’t see that there is just a right and a wrong. I think [in] so many parts of their life, they’re taught it can change tomorrow—you could be this tomorrow and this today. This … gives that absolute fact of how we are created, how we are made, and how that goes.”
She added that teaching children about the topics addressed in the bill would help them understand that they “are made exactly right, and we’re all made this way.”
Another witness, Anne Newman, said, “I believe this bill will create a culture of life in Texas and respect for life.”
She also had a suggestion for lawmakers.
“Since the bill requires instruction on reproduction, I urge you to consider something, a very controversial thing in our culture. There are a lot of people that don’t know what a woman is, and I think that should be included in there,” Newman said.
The bill was left pending at the conclusion of the hearing.