May is “National Sex Ed for All” month, and the Center is proud to support a new federal bill that would provide funding to improve access to comprehensive sex education and sexual health services for young people throughout the U.S.
The Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA), introduced May 18, would offer the first-ever federal grants for comprehensive, honest and inclusive sex education programs and eliminate federal funding for the harmful Title V “abstinence-only-until-marriage” state grant program. REAHYA grants would also increase access to youth-friendly sexual health services for marginalized young people.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Alma Adams and in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker and Mazie Hirono.
“Through new federal investments, the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act affirms the right for young people to access sex education and sexual health services that are medically accurate, confidential, evidence-based and culturally responsive, especially those who face the greatest barriers to information and access to care like young people who are LGBTQ+ and/or Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,” said Hannah Wheelwright, the Center’s Senior Federal Policy and Advocacy Strategist. “The Center for Reproductive Rights is proud to endorse and call for the passage of this necessary legislation.”
Currently, just 29 U.S. states and Washington D.C. mandate sex education in schools, and only 11 states and D.C. require LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. What’s more, of the states that mandate sex education, 15 states do not require the content to be evidence-informed, medically accurate, and complete.
Experts acknowledge the wide gap between the sexual health education that young people currently receive and the tools they need to be informed about their bodies and sexual health.
“Many sex ed programs and sexual health services were never designed to uphold the rights of young people and empower them to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their lives. We’re encouraged that this bill acknowledges that promoting equitable access to comprehensive sex education and sexual health services is a crucial component of dismantling systems of oppression throughout our history, culture, and institutions, including the health care and education systems,” said Wheelright.
As part of “Sex Ed for All” month, the Center has joined partners in raising awareness about the urgent need for comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual health services for young people.
A broad coalition of organizations, including Advocates for Youth, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, Healthy Teen Network, Planned Parenthood, and Power to Decide, launched a month-long social media campaign to highlight the importance of inclusive and honest sex education. The group has also called on lawmakers to enact legislation to ensure access to sex ed for all young people.
Enabling young people to make informed and autonomous decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health is critical for fulfilling their human rights. The Center has long supported sex education reform and access to information for adolescents both in the U.S. and globally. Through its work in the courts, in human rights bodies like the UN, and supporting research papers, the Center and its partners aim to ensure access to medically accurate and inclusive sex ed and sexual health services for all young people.