- February 15, 2013
Post submitted by Jennifer Pike, HRC Policy & Strategy Coordinator
Yesterday, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) reintroduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. This legislation would provide youth and young adults with comprehensive and inclusive sex education, replacing ineffective and medically inaccurate abstinence-only programs.
Current abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs often exclude, or even denigrate, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. These programs are prohibited by law from discussing contraceptive use and exclude by design LGBT youth because marriage is unavailable to LGBT individuals in most states.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would provide grants for comprehensive sex education to public or private entities that focus on adolescent health and education or have experience with training sex educators. Funding would also be provided for teacher training on sex education. The bill would require, rather than merely encourage, inclusiveness of LGBT youth in sex education. It would also prohibit federal funding of programs that are medically inaccurate and unresponsive to the needs of LGBT youth.
Every year, 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV, and youth and young adults ages 13 to 29 comprise one-third of those infections. Under the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, federal funding would be prohibited for any programs that withhold information about HIV, are medically inaccurate or proven ineffective, promote gender stereotypes, are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of LGBT youth, or are inconsistent with ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.
The goals of the legislation include preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sexual abuse, dating violence, bullying, and harassment. The program also seeks to promote healthy relationships and aims to uphold the rights of youth to accurate information about sexual health. The Human Rights Campaign agrees that we must ensure that our youth are receiving comprehensive, medically accurate information so that they can make informed, responsible life decisions.