February 2013 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Real Education for Healthy Youth Act Introduced for the 113th Congress

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), joined by five other Senators and 43 House Members, have re-introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA) in the 113th Congress, S. 372[1] and H.R. 725,[2] respectively. REHYA encapsulates advocates’ goals for federally funded comprehensive sexuality education programs by expanding school-based programs and compelling programs who use federal funds to be effective, age-appropriate, and medically-accurate. Provisions of the legislation include a Sense of Congress outlining what sex education programs must look like in order to receive federal funding; grants for comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents and institutions of higher education; grants for pre-service and in-service teacher training for K-12 sex educators; and amendments to the Public Health Service Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require education that is non-shaming and inclusive of LGBT students and allow for contraceptive availability in schools.

In order to receive funding from REHYA, programs must go beyond simply offering medically accurate and developmentally appropriate information on preventing unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV—they also must address:

  • Anatomy and physiology;
  • Growth and development;
  • Healthy relationships;
  • Gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation;
  • Protection from dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment;
  • Educational achievement, critical thinking, decision-making, and self-efficacy; and
  • Leadership skills and community involvement.

REHYA builds on the success of the two current federal funding streams that fund adolescent sexual health programs—the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative and the Personal Responsibility Education Program. 

“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 Congresswoman 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.”[3]

“Young adults should be presented with all of the information they need to make smart choices.  It's clear that ‘abstinence-only’ programs simply don't work, and this bill would ensure that U.S. policy and federal funding reflect that reality.  It’s time to bring sex education up-to-date to reflect the real-life situations facing American youth,” said Senator Lautenberg. [4]

[1] S. 372, Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, 113th Congress. Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113s372is/pdf/BILLS-113s372is.pdf.

[2] H.R.725, Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, 113th Congress. Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr725ih/pdf/BILLS-113hr725ih.pdf.

[3] Congresswoman Barbara Lee, “Lautenberg, Lee Introduce Bill to Expand Comprehensive Sex Education,” Press Release published February 21, 2013, accessed  March 4, 2013, at http://lee.house.gov/press-release/congresswoman-barbara-lee-and-senator-frank-r-lautenberg-introduce-bill-expand-0.

[4] Senator Frank Lautenberg, “Lautenberg, Lee Introduce Bill to Expand Comprehensive Sex Education,” Press Release published February 21, 2013, accessed March 4, 2013 at http://www.lautenberg.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=339765&.