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Victory for American Parents and Teens: Key States Expand Sex Education
NEW YORK, NY – Planned Parenthood Federation of America celebrated passage today of state legislation to improve sex education in key states. With a vote of 37 to 21, Illinois state senators sent Governor Pat Quinn a bill that creates uniform standards for sex education. In addition, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is poised to sign a similar measure that will ensure sex education programs that are taught in public schools are comprehensive and medically accurate, and a similar bill is advancing in Nevada, one of the three states in the country where parents are required to opt a student “in” to sex education curricula.
Efforts in Illinois, Colorado and Nevada to promote sex education programs which are designed to reduce teen pregnancy and STDs come at a time of unprecedented assault against women’s health care on the state level, with legislatures across the country considering more than 300 provisions to restrict access to safe and legal abortion in America.
Following is a statement from Leslie Kantor, Vice President of Education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“As one of the nation’s largest and most respected providers of sex education, Planned Parenthood is thrilled to see state legislators work to advance policies that equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions. Every national, state or local poll on sex education shows that parents, teens and the general public overwhelmingly support comprehensive sex education that includes information on topics such as birth control, abstinence, healthy relationships and STD prevention. Over 100 studies have shown that high-quality sex education helps young people delay sex and use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active.
“Comprehensive sex education is also supported by leading medical and public health organizations such as the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.”
Nearly 750,000 teenagers in the United States will become pregnant this year alone, and half of the 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year are diagnosed in young people ages 15-24. Evidence shows the best way to help American teens make responsible decisions and stay healthy is to give them comprehensive sex education.
Public opinion polls show that most Americans support sex education. Parents and students want sexuality education to be taught in our schools. National surveys underscore parental support for school-based sexuality education.
• A nationally representative poll conducted by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University for May’s National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month shows that Latinos in the U.S. believe that addressing teen pregnancy is a major priority — an even higher concern within their own communities than for other groups — and that access to birth control and sex education are critical.
• An October 2012 nationwide survey found parents overwhelmingly support school-based sex education programs and believe that school-based programs should cover a range of topics, including birth control. Ninety-three percent of parents believe birth control should be covered in high school sex ed programs, and 78 percent believe this information should be provided in middle school. Over 95 percent of parents said STDs should be covered in both middle and high school programs, and a majority of parents said that sexual orientation should be covered in both middle and high school sex ed programs. These are consistent with 2011 findings.
Indeed, these bills are advanced with the support of young women and parents, like Meagie Maddock and her mother, Kim, in Colorado. Says Meagie, “I support sex ed because my peers and I deserve better. We deserve comprehensive, science based, and inclusive education that empowers us to lead healthy sexual lives — whether we choose to have sex or not.” Kim Maddock says, “As a women's health nurse practitioner, I have seen firsthand the consequences of abstinence-only ‘non education.’ I support sex ed because we have to educate our youth and give them choices so they can make the decisions that are best for them.”
Despite widespread support, some states are considering new restrictions on sex education. For example, the North Carolina State Senate recently passed a bill that would impose a requirement on North Carolina’s sex education curricula that students be told of a risk of prematurity in subsequent births after an abortion, despite consensus from the medical community that there is no such link.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.