Let’s talk about sex

February is National Condom Month, so there couldn’t be a better time to address the need for REAL sex education in this country. Last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) re-introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. The legislation would establish a new, comprehensive vision for sex education in the United States by expanding multifaceted and inclusive sex education programs in schools and authorizing more federal funding to ensure age-appropriate and medically correct programming is provided for young people.

condomrainbowThe current funding priorities for sex education are inaccurate, discriminatory and ineffective “abstinence only until marriage” programs being pushed by fringe groups who falsely believe that if you don’t talk about sex people won’t have sex. The reality is that these programs are not only ineffective against delaying sex amongst young people, but harmful because they can shame LGBT youth, most of whom live in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized.

The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would provide young people with valuable, necessary information to lead healthy lives. The bill also includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the bill’s outline of programs and nondiscrimination provisions.

The act’s holistic approach includes programs that cover diverse topics from anatomy and physiology, bullying, to STI and pregnancy prevention. Overall, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act will work to inform America’s youth, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, on the skills and information needed to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions – a giant leap forward from the ineffective abstinence only until marriage programs.

According to the Guttmacher Institute:

  • 7 in 10 female and male teens have had sex by their 19th birthday, but do not marry until their mid-20’s;
  • Young people (ages 15 – 24) represent 25% of the sexually active population but account for nearly 50% of sexually transmitted infections annually; and
  • 3% of young men and 8% of young women identify their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

As long as “abstinence only until marriage” is the norm, young LGBT people, and the children of LGBT parents, won’t see their families and lives represented in school curriculum. As the rates of LGBT-related bullying and other kinds of inequalities persist it’s important that our lives are made visible for young people to see. We thank Senator Lautenberg and Representative Lee for advocating to improve the health and future of the next generation.

To support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2013, click here!