On November 1, a comprehensive sex education bill was introduced in the US House and Senate – it is not at all what I expected. It’s exactly what I’ve always hoped for.
It is the singlemost important piece of legislation for the public health sector in regard to preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sexual abuse, dating violence, bullying, fostering healthy relationships, and providing accurate sexual health information. It would -finally- disallow the US government to spend money on or promote programs that withhold information about HIV, are medically inaccurate or proven ineffective, promote gender stereotypes, are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active or LGBT youth, or are inconsistent with ethical imperatives of medicine and public health. (This is the current state of affairs.)
Use this link to send your representatives a letter telling them to support HR 3324 – Healthy Youth Act. Please, please, please spread the word.
This legislation is urgently and vitally needed. Since going through training and becoming a sex educator in 1998, and then furthering my education and becoming a volunteer for a national sex education hotline, I have watched the American public education system become corrupted by Federal abstinence education programs and watched the results predictably unfold over the course of a decade. Pregnancies, STDs/STIs, bullying, and suicides among teens have only gone up. We sex educators talking to kids on the phones, in person, at outreach programs, and online – we saw it coming.
Generations of teenagers have been harmed by the lack of comprehensive, evidence-based sex education in this country – and we are far behind our counterparts around the world in this regard.
Just before the last Presidential election, the UN-sponsored Reality Check website ran my article Obama or McCain’s National Sex Ed Program. In it, I directly linked current sex ed standards to skyrocketing rates of teen sexual, orientation and gender distress. I outlined five clear guidelines to stop the war on public sex education in this country. This legislation is as if it were midwifed from those guidelines.
The bill is called “The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2011” (HR 3324). You can read the text here on Open Congress. In sum, it is:
To provide for the reduction of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and the promotion of healthy relationships, and for other purposes.
The purposes of this Act are to provide young people with comprehensive sex education that–
(A) provides the information and skills young people need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships;
(B) provides information about the prevention of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, sexual assault, dating violence, bullying, and harassment; and
(C) promotes and upholds the rights of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health; and
(2) in order to provide the comprehensive sex education described in paragraph (1), to provide increased resources for sex education programs that–
(A) are evidence-based, having been proven through rigorous evaluation to change sexual behavior or incorporate characteristics of effective programs;
(B) cover a broad range of topics, including medically accurate, complete, age and developmentally appropriate information about all the aspects of sex needed for a complete sex education program, including anatomy and physiology, growth and development, healthy relationships, the 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;
(C) are gender- and gender identity-sensitive, emphasizing the importance of equality and the social environment for achieving sexual and reproductive health and overall well-being;
(D) promote educational achievement, critical thinking, decision making, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (…)
Please help spread the word. Use the form and send emails to your reps like I did, even if (like me) you know they will vote for it anyway – tell them to will fight for this. Email your bastard reps even if you know won’t vote for it, just do it anyway. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do every fucking thing I can to make this place a bit better, hopefully a bit easier, and maybe just a tiny bit less painful and lonely – for the ones that take my place.
I sincerely hope someone tells Lady Gaga. I believe it is exactly in line with the mission of the Born This Way Foundation.