Over the last several decades, our community has achieved significant victories in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Thanks, in large part, to outspoken GLBT advocates, new generations of young people understand the importance of safe sex and the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. State Senator Kevin Eltife wants to push back all this progress. He's speaking out against the U.T. Tyler Health Clinic's practice of providing free condoms to students.
Here's some of what Senator Eltife told KLTV in Tyler (watch the interview with Eltife by clicking on the camera in the upper right side of the screen):
"If it's such a good deal, why don't we talk about it, why don't we debate it," said Senator Eltife. "Let's debate it on campus. Let's get input from the parents, and the students, and the people who are supporting U.T. Health Center in Tyler and the entire system. Let's talk about it in the legislature, let's get it out on the table and discuss it. If it's a great idea and a great concept, let's get it out on the table and discuss it."
"I had no idea and I'd imagine most parents don't know either," said Senator Eltife. "I can assure you there are a lot of parents whose kids are going there who would probably not be happy about what they're doing."
Senator Eltife is concerned that state money is being directed to this program, but it's not just the state that helps pay for condoms at university health clinics. In Tyler, for instance, a local agency, Tyler AIDS services, is proud to provide a large number of condoms to the university clinic. This is the type work our community has engaged in for years. We know, all too well, that this issue is too real and too serious. It's above politics, and it must be dealt with honestly and directly.
Here's the bottom line: In this day and age, regressive, socially conservative politicians should be more concerned with all the truly serious problems facing our state. Texas is facing a tragic crisis when it comes to health care. We have more uninsured children than any other state. Rural access to health care is dwindling, and, due to ridiculously low wages for nurses, elderly Texans often receive inadequate care. All of these deathly consequential issues are staring Senator Eltife directly in the face, and he's worried about college students participating in safe sex. What a jerk!