Legislative Advocacy

While school districts select their own sex education curriculum, they must follow state laws adopted by the Texas Legislature. 

 

The Texas Legislature meets every other year from January through May. The 87th Texas Legislative session ended in May of 2021. The next regular session will begin in January, 2023, although legislators will meet for at least one “special session” to handle specific topics such as redistricting. For many years, the Texas legislature has had a large Republican majority in both the House and the Senate. 

 

Policies related to sex education are usually heard in the Senate Education Committee and the House Public Education committee, though some bills may go through other committees related to public health or government. 

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Bill Tracker, 88th Legislative Session

The 88th Legislative Session will begin on January 10, 2023, but bill filing already is underway. The following filed bills could impact sex education. 

Opt in bills

Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted a parental consent requirement for sex education. However, this requirement was only put into effect through 2024. Several bills have been filed to make opt-in permanent:

"Don't Say Gay" bills 

  • HB 631 by Toth would prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through fifth grade, or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate in accordance with state standards. As state standards do not include sexual orientation or gender identity at any age, the bill could be interpreted to prohibit all classroom instruction that addresses sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Criminalization bills 

Several bills have been filed that would amend the Penal Code and potentially put teachers, doctors, and other clinicians at risk of criminal prosecution for sharing sex education materials with minors. 

Other bills 

  • HB 60 by Vasut and HB 574 by Leo-Wilson would require all Texas students to receive instruction that life begins at conception. 

What happened in the 87th Legislative Session?

Sex education bills that passed into law

 

SB 442 by Hughes. This lengthy bill made a number of changes to the operations of school health advisory councils, increased parent access to sex education curriculum materials, and required additional notification to parents about sex education. The bill passed the Senate and was approved by the House Public Health Committee, but was not taken up by the House. The bill language was added as an amendment to a school finance bill, HB 1525, and passed into law. HB 3872 by Dutton (D) was the companion bill. 

 

SB 1083 by Sen. Campbell. This bill would have required parents to actively opt their children into sex education, rather than having the option of opting them out of sex education. The bill passed the Senate but the House Public Education Committee did not give it a hearing. The bill language was then added on as an amendment to a school finance bill, HB 1525. The language was amended by the conference committee to only apply for 3 years, through September 1, 2024. 

SB 9 by Huffman made all requirements for sex education also apply to any instruction on the prevention of child abuse, family violence, dating violence, or sex trafficking, making Texas the only state in the nation requiring parent consent for abuse prevention.  

Sex education bills that received a hearing but did not pass into law

 

SB 1109 by Sen. West (D). This bill would have required instruction on prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence in middle and high school. It was approved by the Legislature, but vetoed by the Governor because it did not include a provision for parental opt out.  

SB 347 by Sen.  Paxton (R). This bill would have designated SHACs as governmental entities under Chapters 551 and 552 of the Government Code. The bill passed the Senate and was heard in the House Public Education committee but a majority of committee members voted against the bill on two separate votes.  

 

SB 1082 by Sen. Campbell. This bill would have required charter schools to provide access to sex education curriculum materials to parents. The bill passed the Senate but did not receive a hearing in the House Public Education Committee. 

 

HB 3089 by Rep Hull (R). Would have required SHACs to conduct their meetings in compliance with open meetings laws in Chapter 551, Government Code. The bill passed out of the House Public Education Committee but did not receive a floor vote.   

 

Bills that did not receive a hearing 

 

HB 310 by Rep. Vasut (R). This bill would have required Health Education classes to teach that “human life begins at conception and has inherent dignity and immeasurable worth from the moment of conception. The bill was referred to the Public Education committee but did not receive a hearing. 

 

HB 972 by Rep. Mary González (D). This bill would have established healthy relationships education in public schools. The bill was referred to the Public Education committee but did not receive a hearing. 

 

HB 2003 by Rep. Sanford (R). This bill would have required students to receive education about fetal development in Health Education class.  The bill was referred to the Public Education committee but did not receive a hearing. 

 

HB 2679 by Rep. Mary González (D). This bill would have established medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in public schools. The bill was referred to the Public Education committee but did not receive a hearing. 

 

HB 4425 by Zwiener (D). This bill would have repealed the “no homo promo” statute that remains in state law despite being unconstitutional. Currently, if the Department of State Health Services develops educational materials for minors on HIV, they are required by law to state that “homosexual conduct in not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense” under the penal code. Texas law criminalize homosexuality was declared unconstitutional in 2003. The language remains in state law but is not enforced. HB 4425 was referred to the Public Health committee but did not receive a hearing. 

 

HB 4088 by Rep Talarico. This bill would have established medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in public schools. The bill was referred to the Public Education committee but did not receive a hearing. 

Who represents me?

Reaching out directly to your elected officials can be a powerful way to advocate for change! You don’t need to work in a government position to enact change in the policies that affect your life. 

Every American is represented by many elected officials at the national, state, and local levels.

For more information on your local elected officials, go to the website of your city, county, or school district or search on Ballotpedia.

 

Your elected officials may include the following:

National level: President, US Senators, Congressional Representative

State Level: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Senator, State Representative, State Board of Education

County Level: County Judge, County Commissioner

City Level (if living in incorporated area): Mayor, councilmember(s)

School district level: School board trustees

Advocating for sex education

Texas Polling Results

A large, bipartisan majority of Texans support sex education. Tell your lawmakers that sex ed has support across the aisle.

Myths and Facts

Download our 17-page toolkit with all the information you need to effectively advocate for high-quality sex education in your school district.