NLIRH Applauds the Groundbreaking Introduction of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), which proposes to improve sex education to ensure that all youth in the U.S. have medically accurate information to make informed, responsible and health decisions about sexual health.
“The REAL Act represents a shift in sex education policy in the United States” said Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Executive Director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Historically, communities of colors, including Latinas have faced disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs as well as unintended pregnancy, and they lack quality information about sex and sexuality. More specifically, the current discourse surrounding these facts is both stigmatizing and insensitive, and presents young adults as a problem as opposed to the problems that often surround them, such as poverty and lack of access to timely and high-quality health care services and real sex education.”
Research shows that current health policies and programs, such as the abstinence-only program do not work. For example, access to comprehensive sex education is a major concern for Latinas as studies show that HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death of Latinas between the ages of 25 and 44. Yet, far too few Latinas have access to the sex education to protect them from sexually transmitted infections: 60% of Puerto Rican and Mexican American women received no sex education from parents. Additionally, 21% percent of Puerto Rican and 38.3% of Mexican American women reported no sex education in schools.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act will:
Recognize young people’s right to sexual health information–the first time federal legislation has ever done so;
Prepare young people to make informed, responsible and healthy decisions about relationships and sexual health by including a comprehensive range of topics such as communication and decision-making skills; promoting safe and healthy relationships; and preventing unintended pregnancy, HIV, other STDs, dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment
Fund programs for comprehensive sex education for adolescents and young adults in institutions of higher education
Require all funded programs to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual youth, which is something NLIRH has advocated for specifically, it and meet the needs of young people who are and are not sexually active
Highlight the importance of and provide resources for teacher training to ensure that our nation’s sex educators have the tools they need to provide the highest quality comprehensive sex education possible to our nation’s youth.
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the nation’s only reproductive health policy and advocacy organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the nation’s Latina women.