Democrats launched a bicameral effort today to expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools and block federal funding from any programs that don’t educate kids on the use of condoms, promote gender stereotypes, or are insensitive to different sexual orientations.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, introduced today by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), died in the 112th Congress.
That version of the bill would have mandated sex education that “provides the information and skills young people need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships; provides information about the prevention of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, sexual assault, dating violence, bullying, and harassment; and promotes and upholds the rights of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health.”
For adolescents, program requirements in that bill included “abstinence and delaying sexual initiation; the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptive and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; how to avoid, and how to avoid making, unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances; the development of healthy attitudes and values about such topics as adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles and gender identity, racial and ethnic diversity, and sexual orientation; and referral services for local health clinics and services where adolescents can obtain additional information and services related to sexual and reproductive health, dating violence and sexual assault, and suicide prevention.”
“Comprehensive sex education programs reduce behaviors that put young people at risk, and it’s past time we get real about giving young people the information they need from trusted sources to live healthy lives” said Lee. “Research has shown that programs which teach abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use among teens. These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
It stipulates that programs must be “evidence-based” and “medically accurate.”
“Growing up isn’t easy and our kids find themselves in tough situations every day,” said Lautenberg. “They need all the information to make smart choices and ‘abstinence-only’ programs don’t work. It’s time to bring sex education up-to-date to reflect the real life situations facing young Americans.”
Original co-sponsors of this year’s bill include Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).