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SIECUS Applauds the Introduction of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act

March 17, 2009
 
Bill Would Finally Provide Dedicated Funding for Comprehensive Sexuality Education
 
 
William Smith (left), vice president for public policy at SIECUS
looks on as Senator Lautenberg speaks about the REAL Act.


New York, NY – Today, Representative Barbara Lee (CA-9) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act. The bill would create a dedicated funding stream administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide states with money for comprehensive sexuality education that is age-appropriate, medically accurate, and stresses abstinence while also educating young people about contraception. 
 
“Now is the time to pass the REAL Act,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  “We all know that times are tight, but funding comprehensive sexuality education is an investment in our young people that will save money and lives in the long run by reducing teen pregnancy and STDs, including HIV/AIDS.  We are very grateful to those policymakers, under the leadership of Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman Lee, who understand this.”
 
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control have shown that nearly 50% of high school students in America have had sexual intercourse. Unprotected teen sex and other risky behaviors have led to variety of negative health outcomes: nearly 10 million people under the age of 24 acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year, representing half of all STD infections; the HIV epidemic also disproportionately affects youth with a young person in the U.S. getting infected every hour on average, and; the teen pregnancy birth recently rose for the first time in 15 years.
 
 “Young people who receive information on a broad range of topics in sex education are more likely to delay sexual activity and be abstinent than those who get only failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs,” continued Smith.  “By funding comprehensive sexuality education, the REAL Act will give lawmakers the opportunity both to support programs that have been shown to work and to prove that science is truly back in the driver’s seat.” Smith continued.
 
Currently there is no federal funding stream dedicated to comprehensive sexuality education programs.  Since 1982, however, the U.S. government has spent over a $ 1.3 billion on unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  Of that money, over $800 million was spent during the Bush administration.  In Fiscal Year 2008 alone, close to $200 million dollars went to these failed programs that have been proven not to work time and time again.
 
“President Obama was a cosponsor of the REAL Act when he was in the United States Senate and he has made it very clear that he supports comprehensive sexuality education,” said Smith.  “Not another day should pass before we see an end to the failed billion dollar abstinence-only-until-marriage boondoggle and an investment in a more comprehensive approach like that advanced in the REAL Act,” Smith concluded
 
Programs fund by the REAL Act would also stress family communication, responsible decision-making, and negotiation skills. For more information contact Patrick Malone at (212)819-9770 ext. 316 or pmalone@siecus.org.
 
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