UT Houston hiding partnership with Planned Parenthood
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The University of Texas in Houston School of Public Health (UTSPH) has removed evidence from its website showing Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast as its “partner agency.” The removal comes after STOPP revealed last week that the UT Prevention Research Center is partnering with Planned Parenthood in its core activity, “the diffusion of effective health promotion programs to health and education agencies, and the provision of training to health agency professionals to develop and evaluate effective health promotion programs locally and nationally.”

On its Facebook page, University of Texas Prevention Research Center (UTPRC) clarifies its core research:

In line with this mission, UTPRC researchers, led by director Susan Tortolero PhD, will focus their work for the next five years on adolescent sexual health. The core research centers around mobilizing community partnerships for effective sexual health education in middle school. Through a collaborative research study, investigators will develop, implement, and evaluate a dissemination intervention to get effective sexual health programs into middle schools in Harris County.

According to UTHealth, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $15 million over five years to a team led by Susan Tortolero, PhD, director of the UTHealth Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research. The UTHealth researchers will use the funding to disseminate its computer-based sex-education program, along with other evidence-backed programs.”

Houston parents say a UT Houston representative has flatly denied that Planned Parenthood is involved with It’s Your Game: Keep it Real that is being pushed into 96 Houston Middle Schools by UTPRC.

Here are side-by-side comparisons of a UTH webpage that was linked from last week’s Wednesday STOPP report and that page as it appears today. It is identical, except that Planned Parenthood’s name is now absent.

Side-by-side comparison

In addition, a link from last week’s STOPP article to a YouTube video from the It’s Your Game program posted by UTPRC was changed from public to private after the story was released nationally. American Life League subsequently found a different link to the same video and re-linked it. You can view it here.

Houston parents have also uncovered the fact that the outgoing chair of UTPRC advisory group is Sonya Norsworthy, community education manager for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. The mission of the Community Advisory Group is to collaborate as equal partners to promote child and adolescent health. Still, parents are expected to believe that Planned Parenthood is not involved in the development and dissemination of It’s Your Game in Houston middle schools.

The meeting notes of the June 6, 2012, Community Advisory Group illustrate the lengths Planned Parenthood and UT will go to in swaying parents to overcome their insistence on abstinence-until-marriage education and morality training for their children, so they will accept It’s Your Game. According to the meeting notes, a “social marketing campaign” has been undertaken:

UTPRC is partnering with Luntz Global, a national firm, to identify words and messages that resonate with people to help frame our messages about adolescent sexual health. We are looking for sound bites, but if we find sound bites do not work, a different approach for the public may be needed.

UTPRC has conducted 2 focus groups so far—parents and non-parents

- Parents exhibited a lot of fear and emotion about their child[ren] to where they could not even offer good, rational decisions. They picked moral arguments over social and economic ones. They held on for a long time to the belief of wanting their kids to be abstinent until marriage but finally relinquished it as not practical. They said nothing about contraception and were very negative about condoms. They did not like the idea of being a “partner” with schools; “team” is better. They were apprehensive about the term “sex education” until “curriculum” was mentioned. They wanted to teach biology in schools and values at home, and they saw behavior change as only about knowledge; skills were not included.

- Non-parents chose social arguments over moral and economic ones. They said numbers (economic arguments) do not mean a lot these days. They felt they did not have permission from parents to care or voice their opinion about the issue because they do not have kids of their own. They provided more realistic, open, and practical solutions. They liked the idea of being a “partner” with schools instead of a “team.”

- Both groups supported the terms “accountability,” “responsible,” “personal responsibility,” and “abstinence” (especially the parent group). They do not believe statistics and see teachers as more liberal; there is mistrust in teachers delivering sexual health education. They liked health and life skills, but they did not like the California–Texas comparison. “Evidence” and “evidence-based” had no meaning for either group; they responded to “fact-based.”

The meeting notes continue with the statements that resonate best with parents for getting them onboard with the program.

Houston, we have a problem! And that problem is not limited to Houston, since this program is being pushed across the nation. If you are fighting Planned Parenthood in your schools, please contact [email protected]. We will compile a list of those involved in the fight and those who will step up to fight it in their local schools so that we can share information and strategy.

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