Last week, a new sex-education bill was introduced in the House. The new bill, called the Real Education for Healthy Young Act, proposes offering 5-year grants to LGBT inclusive programs, effectively encouraging the exclusion of gender stereotypes that have long been plaguing sex-education.
If passed, the bill would fund programs that taught both abstinence and safe sex, including the health benefits and risks of birth control options. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and 32 other Democrats are supporting the comprehensive bill.
Programs funded by the bill would be required to teach emotional skills and develop “healthy attitudes and values” when it comes to body image, gender identity and sexual orientation in an “age and developmentally appropriate” setting. Promotion of gender stereotypes would be disallowed, and programs would be required to respond appropriately to LGBT students as well as openly share information about HIV.
Conservatives and Republicans are likely to oppose the bill and favor more traditional sex education programs that are abstinence-only and heterosexual specific. But such programs have proven ineffective over the years. In contrast, more inclusive programs have been much more successful.
“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,” says Rep. Lee. “These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
State and local education agencies, nonprofit organizations and public universities would be eligible for the five-year grants provided by the bill. Communities with higher rates of unintended pregnancy, STDs and sexual assault would be given priority. As Lee states, the program would be a way to give “young people the information they need… to live healthy lives.”