This month, NEAT was one of over 100 organizations that endorsed the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act and sent a letter to Congress encouraging the bill to become law. The bill was introduced in both chambers with a significant number of co-sponsors as H.R. 3312 (in the House of Representatives) and S. 1689 (in the Senate). If passed the lawmakers, the REAHYA would:
- Attempt to close the gap of sexual education in the United States, where only 29 states and the District of Columbia require some form of sex education for young adults.
- Provide the first federal grants for comprehensive sex education programs and end investments in harmful Title V abstinence-only programs. These grants would fund programs at high schools, colleges, and organizations to support the sexual health and agency of students and young people.
- Grantees would be required to promote gender equity and offer instruction that is inclusive of young people with varying gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who introduced the bill in the Senate, provided this press release to express why it is important for him and the country. “By giving young people the tools to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions, we can positively impact the health of all Americans and limit health disparities. The Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act will ensure that our young people have access to both sex education and sexual health services and are empowered to make healthy, informed decisions throughout their lives,” Senator Booker says in support of the Act.
Sexual Education & the LGBTQ+ Community
It is an easy tie to understand why inclusive sex education is important to LGBTQ+ equality. There are several studies on the negative consequences of withholding sexual education from youths, including this one by the University of Southern California’s School of Nursing, which notes the increase in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned births when there is a lack of education. Specific to LGBTQ+ folks, here is an interesting article by Forbes from last year describing that sexual education that excludes the LGBTQ+ community leads to worse health outcomes. The article also states that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, LGBTQ+ young people face more sexual health risks than their counterparts because of a lack of robust sex education policies. Specifically:
- In 2018, gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 24 made up 25% of new HIV diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths are twice as likely to become pregnant or get someone else pregnant, according to a study of New York City high school students.
- LGBTQ+ students also face higher rates of STIs, and transgender students specifically are more likely to report sexual risk behaviors and being tested for HIV, according to the CDC.