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Support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act

          

 
Support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (S. 1782, H.R. 3324)
 
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act on November 2, 2011. This legislation would provide young people with the comprehensive sexuality education they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships.
 
The legislation provides comprehensive sexuality education to adolescents and young adults in public schools, communities, and institutions of higher education that—
  • recognizes the right of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health;
  • imparts the information they need to know about—
    • anatomy and physiology;
    • growth and development;
    • healthy relationships;
    • prevention of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, through abstinence and contraception;
    • gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation; and
    • protection from dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment
  • is evidence-based or incorporate characteristics of effective programs proven to change sexual behavior in young people;
  • includes medically accurate and developmentally appropriate information;
  • promotes educational achievement, critical thinking, decision-making, and self-efficacy;
  • fosters leadership skills and community involvement;
  • is culturally and linguistically appropriate;
  • is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual students; and
  • builds on the Personal Responsibility Education Program and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative.

 

The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act includes—
  • Sense of Congress outlining what sex education programs must look like in order to receive federal funding and restricting federal funding to programs that do not meet a bare minimum standard.
  • Grants for comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents.
  • Grants for comprehensive sexuality education in institutions of higher education.
  • Grants for pre-service and in-service teacher training for K-12 sex educators.
  • Amends the Public Health Service Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to allow education that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and contraceptive distribution in schools, respectively.
 
 
The legislation ensures that no federal funds are used for health education programs that—
  • deliberately withhold life-saving information about HIV;
  • are medically inaccurate or have been scientifically shown to be ineffective;
  • promote gender stereotypes;
  • are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active adolescents or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth (LGBT); or
  • are inconsistent with the ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.
 
Young People of All Ages Benefit from Comprehensive Sexuality Education
  • More comprehensive sex education has been found to be effective in delaying sexual intercourse, increasing condom or contraceptive use, and reducing the number of partners among teens.1
  • Research has found that teens who report that they received comprehensive sex education are 50 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy.2
  • Strong evidence indicates that sex education programs that promote abstinence as well as the use of condoms do not increase sexual behavior.3
  • Teens who receive sex education that includes abstinence and contraception are more likely than those who receive abstinence-only-until-marriage messages to delay sexual activity and use contraception when they do become sexually active. Research shows that teens who practiced contraception consistently in their first sexual relationship are more likely to continue doing so than those who used no method or who used a method inconsistently.4

 

Why Do Young People Need Comprehensive Sexuality Education?
  • The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world. Each year in the U.S., more than 750,000 women aged 15–19 become pregnant, with more than 80 percent of these pregnancies unintended.5
  • While young people in the U.S., aged 15–25, make up only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they contract about half of the 19 million STDs annually. The CDC estimates that one in four young women aged 15–19 has an STD.6
  • Young people aged 13–29 account for over one-third of the estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year, the largest share of any age group. Two young people every hour are infected with HIV.7
  • Nine out of 10 LGBT students reported being harassed in the last year; two-thirds reported feeling unsafe; and one-third skipped at least one day of school because of concerns about their safety.8
  • Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.9
  • The CDC has repeatedly found that student health behaviors and good grades are linked, stating: “…students who do not engage in health-risk behaviors receive higher grades than their classmates who do engage in health-risk behaviors.”10
 
To cosponsor the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (S. 1782, H.R. 3324)
or for more information, please contact:
Jirair Ratevosian in Representative Barbara Lee’s office at 5-2661 or
Kyle Brown in Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office at 4-3224
 
Endorsers: Advocates for Youth - The AIDS Institute - AIDS United - American Civil Liberties Union -
Choice USA - Futures Without Violence - Guttmacher Institute - Human Rights Campaign - International Women’s Health Coalition - NARAL Pro-Choice America - National Coalition of STD Directors - National Council of Jewish Women - National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association - National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health - Planned Parenthood Federation of America - Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)


1Douglas Kirby , Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2007), 15; accessed 5 February 2007, <http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/EA2007/EA2007_full.pdf>.
2Pamela Kohler, et al. “Abstinence-only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy.” Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2008, 42(4): 344-351.
3Mark Schuster, et al. Impact of a high school condom availability program on sexual attitudes and behaviors, Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 30(2):67-72 & 88; Jane Mauldon, et. al., The effects of contraceptive education on method use at first intercourse, Family Planning Perspectives, 1996, 28:19-24 & 41.
4Jennifer Manlove, et al., Contraceptive use and consistency in U.S. teenagers’ most recent sexual relationships, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004, 36(6):265-275.
5Lorrie Gavin, et al., “Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 Years – United States, 2002–2007,” Surveillance Summaries, vol. 58, number SS-6 (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 July 2009).
6 “STDs in Adolescents and Young Adults,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 15 March 2010, <http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats09/adol.htm>.
7Hall HI, Song R, Rhodes P, et 1. al. Estimation of HIV incidence in the United States. JAMA. 2008;300:520–529.
8“2009 National School Climate Survey: Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT Students Experience Harassment in School,” GLSEN, 14 September 2010, accessed 12 October 2011, <http://www.glsen.org/cgibin/iowa/all/library/record/2624.html>.
9Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus.
10“Health-Risk Behaviors and Academic Achievement,” (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).
 

 

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