Press Room

February 10, 2005

Category: Schools

HRC Praises Introduction of Responsible Education About Life Act

'Science proves that teens need comprehensive sexuality education,' said HRC's David Smith.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign praised today's introduction of the Responsible Education About Life Act in the U.S. House and Senate. The bill would create a grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services for comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education.

"Science proves that teens need comprehensive sexuality education," said HRC Vice President of Policy and Strategy David M. Smith. "Comprehensive education can include abstinence but must also include science-proven prevention education. The federal government has tied states' hands when it comes to providing prevention education to teens. It's time to ensure that at least one program gives states the ability to get the job done."

Currently, states can only receive federal funding for sexuality education if they teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that routinely exclude information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study at Texas A&M University showed that teenagers taking abstinence-only sex education programs became increasingly sexually active, which is the exact opposite effect of that for which the program is designed.

"Without the right to marry in the vast majority of the nation, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are completely cut out of prevention in the current system," added Smith. "School is supposed to be about educating. It's time to present teens with the whole truth in an age-appropriate way. We thank Representative Lee, Senator Lautenberg and all of the congressional supporters of this legislation for their commitment to the health of our nation's youth. We urge members from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor and support this critical legislation."

The REAL Act was introduced Feb. 10 by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. It would create a grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services that would award $206 million per year to states for comprehensive sexuality education. Previously, the REAL Act was called the Family Life Education Act. HRC and its health community allies, including the Sexuality Information Education Council of the United States, Advocates for Youth and the National Education Association, have all consistently supported the bill.