What Texas stands to lose by failing to require LGBTQ-inclusive sex education

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The Texas State Board of Education is revising the health and sex education standards for Texas students, and we have a real opportunity to take a much-needed step forward for all youth across our state.

The last time the board revised the standards was 1997, a generation ago. Bill Clinton was in the White House, fewer than 20% of American households had internet access and the world was mourning the death of Princess Diana.

We’ve come a long way since then. Marriage equality has been the law of the land for five years, LGBTQ workers are covered under federal employment law, and public opinion polling shows Texans overwhelmingly support equal rights for LGBTQ people. But LGBTQ youth in Texas still do not see themselves or their experiences reflected in the curriculum. The board missed a chance in September to protect students by voting to exclude information on sexual orientation and gender identity, but there is still time to reverse course.

What does an LGBTQ-inclusive health curriculum look like?

Simply put, it is age-appropriate, medically accurate information that reflects the lives and experiences of all students. For younger students, it recognizes that some individuals are different from others but are equally deserving of dignity and respect. It teaches about gender stereotypes and the fact that often a person’s gender matches what they look like on the outside but sometimes it does not.

For more mature students, it introduces the distinction between sexual orientation, an enduring physical, romantic or emotional attraction to another, and gender identity, a person’s internal, deeply held sense of gender. Many people, even those with education about the LGBTQ community, still confuse these concepts. Such basic knowledge in the learning standards would go a long way to create more understanding and acceptance as young people develop.

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With near-empty stands, college football’s home-field advantage on pace to be worst in 15 years

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When Mike Leach looked for fans Saturday,  he saw cardboard. Leave it to The Pirate to break down what it’s like to play college football in empty or near-empty stadiums in 2020.

“The vibe to me that’s funny is the cut-out people,” Leach told CBS Sports after Saturday’s 44-34 upset at LSU. “Isn’t that ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Outer Limits’ stuff?”

Not quite science fiction, though somewhat dystopian cardboard images of fans and COVID-19 diminished crowds have almost become routine. At LSU last week, fans were able to purchase a cut out of themselves to be placed in the stands where 82,000 empty seats looked on. The cost? $50.

They mixed nicely with a reduced crowd of 21,124 who watched Mississippi State’s upset at Tiger Stadium (total capacity: 102,321). They also held the attention of the Bulldogs coach, who is known sometimes for his lack of focus.

“I would try to find cut-outs in the crowd that looked really good or were interesting except that they didn’t move,” Leach said. “They were frozen.”

That’s a sideways glimpse of what it will be like to play this season amid COVID-19 restrictions (capacity varies depending on local health guidelines). The atmosphere at games has certainly been diminished. Bands may or may not allowed. When first the Big Ten and then the Pac-12 return later this fall, they will do so without fans.

“It’s not ideal,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “It’s just awkward. It’s just different.”

Home-field advantage has been altered — at least reduced — for sure in 2020. Four weeks into the season, home teams are winning only 59.5% of their games (47-32). If that number holds, it would mark the worst winning percentage by home teams since 2005 (59.3%).

Ironically, the year following that (2004) marked the best home