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Connecticut Considers Grants for Health Education

Discussions and debates on whether states should fund comprehensive health education have been common over the past years. In February, Connecticut joined that debate with a bill that would establish a grant program to fund health education in school districts, An Act Concerning Healthy Teens (The Healthy Teens Act).1 And, on March 17, the bill passed the legislature’s education committee by a vote of 24-6, and is currently on its way to the Appropriations Committee.2
Connecticut presently has no law mandating sexuality education in schools. The decision of whether to teach sexuality education is left up to local or regional school boards. The Healthy Teens Act would not require school districts to teach sexuality education. It would, however, establish a $1 million grant, controlled by the state’s Department of Education, for “medically accurate” health education. The money would be available to school districts that seek to participate.3 These grants would only fund programs that follow state curriculum guidelines around comprehensive health and sexuality education.4
Currently, there is no federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education, but the government has dedicated over $1.5 billion in funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, despite mounting research that shows these programs are not effective.
Several local health and advocacy organizations have made public statements backing Connecticut’s bill. Susan Yolen, vice president for public affairs and communication at Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, stated that this legislation would help get life-saving information to young people. “What we know is that parents assume their children are receiving age-appropriate, science-based information about relationships, life decisions, and sexuality; but that’s not true in all school systems,” stated Yolen.5
Planned Parenthood of Connecticut also polled Connecticut voters, in part to bolster the bill, and found that 80 percent of those polled think sexuality education should include information about birth control and condoms.6
William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS, said, “While the federal government repeatedly moves to fund failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, states such as Connecticut are taking real measures to promote the health of their young people. Advocates and policymakers should support the Healthy Teens Act to help ensure that Connecticut’s youth have access to medically accurate sexuality education.”

1. Arielle Levin Becker, “Bill Would Issue Grants for Sex Ed,” The Hartford Courant, 1 March 2008, accessed 6 March 2008,

2. Courant Staff Reports, “Health Education Bill Passed by Committee,” The Hartford Courant, 18 March 2008, accessed 18 March 2008,,0,7413791.story; Monica Potts, “Coalition looks for state funds for sex education,” The Advocate, 24 March 2008, accessed 26 March 2008,

3. “Legislation aimed at sex education debate,” Connecticut Post, 1 March 2008, accessed 6 March 2008,

4. Becker, “Bill Would Issue Grants.”

5. Christine Stuart, “Healthy Teens Coalition Backs Sex Education Bill,” CTNewsJunkie, 20 February 2008,

6. Potts, “Coalition looks for state funds for sex education.”