Supports efforts to provide young people with complete, accurate, inclusive, and equitable sexual health information, empowering them to make healthy decisions for themselves
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) led lawmakers today in introducing a measure that officially supports the goals, ideals, and importance of the May as Sex Ed for All Month Resolution while also encouraging state and local governments to recognize May as Sex Ed for All Month. The Resolution works to replace an outdated and ineffective National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month to better provide young people with complete, accurate, and inclusive sexual health information and access to sexual and reproductive health care services, empowering them to make healthy decisions for themselves and promoting healthy lifelong attitudes toward sex, health, and reproductive rights.
“I’m proud that Washington state once again became a national leader in November by passing a historic referendum to provide comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive sexual health education to all students,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “Now, the work to guarantee all young people complete, culturally responsive, and equitable sex education continues across the country. Sexual and reproductive health is an issue of social justice, and the May as Sex Ed for All Month Resolution puts us on a path to a future in which young people have the resources and care they need to make healthy decisions for themselves while we decrease the rate of sexually transmitted infections.”
The lawmakers’ resolution calls on public officials at all levels of government to advocate for sex education legislation and recommends the implementation of sex education in schools. Specifically, the resolution prioritizes sex education programs that are comprehensive and evidence-based, medically accurate, age appropriate, equitable, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed. The resolution discourages programs that are medically inaccurate or incomplete, withhold health-promoting information about sexuality-related topics, promote gender or racial stereotypes or are unresponsive to gender or racial inequities, fail to address the needs of sexually active young people, and fail to be inclusive of individuals with varying gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.
The resolution recognizes that many young people face systematic inequalities in ensuring lifelong health, and that sex education is a key factor in how young people begin to think about their own sexual health. It also commends the work of community organizations, state education agencies, local education agencies, and health centers that are providing sex education to young people. Additionally, it calls on all educators, youth-serving professionals, and individuals who impact the lives of youth to ensure access to inclusive and honest sex education for all young people.
“At SIECUS, we believe that comprehensive sexuality education is a powerful vehicle for building a foundation for a long-term culture shift that will positively impact all young people, particularly in support of dismantling disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and eliminating stigma and shame around sex, sexuality and identity across the intersections of age, race, size, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and ability,” said Christine Soyong Harley, the President and CEO of SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. “SIECUS applauds Representative Jayapal for her resolution recognizing May as Sex Ed for All month. This resolution is an important step in moving the national conversation forward.”
“For the third year in a row, sex education advocates across the country will raise awareness throughout the month about the importance and need for sex education that is consistent with this year’s theme, Equity and Access for All. Young people have the right to lead healthy and fulfilling lives and to plan for the future they want. Providing youth with honest, inclusive, and culturally responsive sex education empowers them to make healthy decisions about sex and relationships and is far more effective than simply telling them to “just say no,” said Debra Hauser the President of Advocates for Youth.“Advocates for Youth applauds Representative Jayapal for introducing a House resolution recognizing May as Sex Ed for All Month. This resolution is a vitally needed first step in creating a culture that values all young people and ensures them equal access to quality sex education.”
The resolution is being introduced at a moment in which only 17 states require sex education to be medically accurate and the United States continues to have the highest rate of unintended teen pregnancy among comparable countries. Young people ages 15 through 25 also contract half of the 19 million sexually transmitted infections each year, despite making up only a quarter of the sexually active population. One in five new HIV infections is contracted by a young person under the age of 25. Additionally, three-quarters of LGBTQ+ students report harassment and 56 percent report feeling unsafe at school. However, seven states require teachers to portray LGBTQ+ people negatively or not at all and only nine mandate instructions to be free from biases based on race, ethnicity, or sex.
The May as Sex Ed for All Month Resolution makes it clear how these statistics can be addressed. Sex education that includes information beyond abstinence has been found to delay sexual activity, in- crease contraceptive use, and decrease physical aggression with intimate partners. Young people who receive sex education are 50 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy and 31 percent less likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection.
Today’s resolution is co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Adams, Blumenauer, Cárdenas, Carson, Cohen, Grijalva, Jones, Lee (CA), Norton, Pocan, Pressley, Schakowsky, Smith (WA), Takano, and Williams.
The resolution is also endorsed by dozens of national organizations including Advocates for Youth, AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families, National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, American Atheists, NASTAD, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), SPLC Action Fund , The AIDS Institute, National Black Justice Coalition, Ipas, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Physicians for Reproductive Health, SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators , Equality Federation, Positive Women’s Network-USA, Women of Reform Judaism, ETR Associates, We Testify, American Medical Student Association, Power to Decide , Center for Biological Diversity, State Innovation Exchange (SiX), National Center for Lesbian Rights, Reframe Health and Justice, Equality Federation, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Association of County and City Health Officials, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American School Health Association, NoTeenShame.org, AIDS United, National Council of Jewish Women, Human Rights Watch, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Guttmacher Institute, Jewish Women International, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, Girls Inc., National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Ibis Reproductive Health, Center for Reproductive Rights, Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, SisterReach, AccessMatters,
Additionally, the resolution has the support of local organizations across the country including North Dakota Women’s Network, WV FREE, AIDS Alabama, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH),Silver State Equality-Nevada, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Roads to Family, Health Connected, Latino Network, Teen Health Mississippi, Planned Parenthood Keystone, RISE: Healthy for Life, Fact Forward ,Teen Pregnancy & Prevention Partnership, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Compass LGBTQ Community Center, Pizza Klatch, Pride Community Services Organization, Virginia Coalition for Sex Ed Reform, Equality California, EyesOpenIowa, and Girls Inc. of Long Island.
The text of the resolution is available here.
Issues: Health Care