#SexEdforAllMonth REAHYA Act Introduction
May 18, 2021
|May 18, 2021|
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, RIGHTS AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS APPLAUD INTRODUCTION OF LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF YOUNG PEOPLE
All young people deserve access to high-quality sex education and sexual health care
(Washington, D.C.) — Today, champions in Congress introduced the Real Education and Access to Healthy Youth Act of 2021 (REAHYA). The bill, which is led by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Alma Adams (D-NC) in the U.S. House and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) in the U.S. Senate, would make essential investments in inclusive and honest sex education programs.
In addition, for young people facing the greatest barriers to sexual health services, the bill would provide funding to help these young people have access to quality and culturally responsive care. Together, these measures will help empower young people to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives.
“Over 30 years of research has shown us that teaching the full range of sexual health topics throughout K-12 grades and within supportive school environments can improve sexual, social and emotional health, and academic outcomes for young people. Additionally, school-based, comprehensive sex ed can lower homophobia and homophobic-related bullying, increase understanding of gender and gender norms, improve knowledge and skills that support healthy relationships, build child sex abuse prevention skills, and reduce dating and intimate partner violence,” said Christine Soyong Harley, President and CEO of SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. “But our policies need to catch up, which is why the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act is so critical. SIECUS thanks Senators Mazie Hirono and Cory Booker and U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee and Alma AdamsCongressional leaders for their important work to improve the lives of young people.”
The introduction of this legislation coincides with Sex Ed For All Month, a national effort led by a coalition of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice organizations including SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, Advocates for Youth, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Healthy Teen Network, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood, Power to Decide, and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity who have been working diligently to ensurecommitted to ensuring all young people receive the equitable and accessible sex education they deservefor all young people. Throughout May, the coalition pledges to ensure all young people have equitable access to the sex education and sexual health care they deserve. The coalition is particularly focused on ensuring these critical resources are available to underserved youngall young people, including youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, immigrant youth, young people with disabilities, systems-impacted youth, youth in foster care, youth who have lower incomes and young people who live in rural areas.
Currently, there is a gap between the access to sex education and sexual health services that young people should be receiving and what they are actually receive in the classroom and in their communities. Only 18 states require sex education to be medically accurate, and 35 states require schools to stress abstinence when sex education or HIV/STI instruction is provided.
The legislation introduced today complements the work underway for #SexEdForAll Month by supporting medically accurate and culturally responsive sex education and sexual health care, and it will also help to provide the agency and support young people need to achieve positive outcomes for themselves.
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change joins the members of the Sex Ed For All Month coalition to urge Congress to pass this legislation, so that all young people—no matter who they are and where they live—receive the information and care they need to achieve their goals and live their lives on their terms.
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change has served as the national voice for sex education for 56 years, asserting that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one worthy of dignity and respect. Through policy, advocacy, education, and strategic communications efforts, SIECUS advances sex education as a vehicle for social change—working toward a world where all people can access and enjoy sexual and reproductive freedom as they define it for themselves.