February 22, 2013
US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) are sponsoring the "Real Education for Healthy Youth Act," a bill aimed to broaden US school and college sex education programming to be comprehensive instead of limited to abstinence-only programs.
Lautenberg declared that sex education that teaches about contraception in addition to abstinence-based education has been successful in reducing the number of teen sex partners, delaying the onset of sex, and increasing teen contraceptive use. Comprehensive sexual education programs also have been effective in lowering unintended pregnancy rates and HIV and STD infections among teens, according to the bill's sponsors. Lee and Lautenberg stated that the bill would direct federal funds to evidence-based sex education programs that are age appropriate and "medically accurate." The bill also provides for educator and teacher training. The US teen pregnancy rate is the highest in the industrialized world, and youth aged 15 to 24 accounted for almost half of the US incidence of STDs in 2010.
Senate co-sponsors of the bill include Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Thirty-five members of the House of Representatives are supporting the House bill. Backers of the bill include a wide range of advocacy organizations, including AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families; Advocates for Youth; the AIDS Institute; AIDS United; American Civil Liberties Union; Choice USA; Guttmacher Institute; Futures Without Violence; Healthy Teen Network; National Coalition of STD Directors; National Council of Jewish Women; National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association; Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; and Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).