Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2013, legislation that would give America's youth the knowledge they need to make educated decisions about their health. The bill would expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools and ensure that federal funds are spent on effective, age-appropriate, medically accurate programs.
"Comprehensive sex education programs reduce behaviors that put young people at risk, and it's past time we get real about giving young people the information they need from trusted sources to live healthy lives" said Congresswoman Lee. "Research has shown that programs which teach abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use among teens. These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV."
Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to threaten the health and well-being of our nation's youth. The United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, and recent reports have shown that teen birth rates are on the rise. In 2009, there were approximately 19 million new cases of STIs, almost half of them occurring in young people between 15 to 24 years old, and young people accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections in the same year.
"Growing up isn't easy and our kids find themselves in tough situations every day," said Senator Lautenberg. "They need all the information to make smart choices and "abstinence-only' programs don't work. It's time to bring sex education up-to-date to reflect the real life situations facing young Americans."
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would help schools implement and expand age-appropriate comprehensive sex education programs, train teachers and educators to effectively educate teenagers about unintended pregnancy and the transmission of STIs, and expand sex education programs at colleges and universities. The bill would also prevent federal funds from being spent on ineffective, medically inaccurate sex education programs.
Original cosponsors include the following members of Congress: Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Donna Christensen, Judy Chu, Yvette D. Clarke, Williams Lacy Clay, John Conyers Jr., Susan A. Davis, Diana DeGette, Theodore Deutch, Raul M. Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Michael M. Honda, Rick Larsen, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Betty McCollum, Jim McDermott, Gwen Moore, James P. Moran, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Charles Rangel, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jan Schakowsky, Louise M. Slaughter, Albio Sires, Jackie Speier, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Maxine Waters.