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New York, NY — As young people and educators settle back into the school year, Planned Parenthood is kicking off its annual National Sex Ed Week of Action.

From September 23 through September 30, Planned Parenthood’s supporters, peer educators, campus chapters, and affiliates across the country will highlight the importance of comprehensive sex education programs.

“We know directly from young people that medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education programs work to keep teens healthy and safe,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “Studies show that comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies1, and results in young people delaying the first time they have sex.”2

Right now, only 10 states and the District of Columbia require that sex education programs in middle school or high school include teaching about birth control, and only 21 states and the District of Columbia require any type of sex education at all.3

“Young people often get their information about sex from a variety of different sources, including at school and from their peers,” said Richards.  “That’s why it is extremely important that during this week we put a special focus on ensuring that every young person has access to accurate and comprehensive sex education.”

Across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates will partake in local efforts throughout the National Sex Ed Week of Action to highlight the importance of comprehensive sex education:

  • In Minnesota, Planned Parenthood’s peer education groups are hosting a viewing of Let’s Talk About Sex, a revealing film that looks at how American attitudes toward adolescent sexuality affect today’s teenagers.  There will also be a panel discussion and Q&A session after the movie.
  • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England’s peer educators and health center outreach team will meet with key administrators at local schools and talk with students about their sex education program, Teen Talk — a four-day program for teens that also features a tour of a health center.
  • At Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio, there will be a screening The Education of Shelby Knox, which chronicles the 15-year-old Knox’s transformation from a conservative Southern Baptist to a liberal Christian and ardent feminist.
  • At Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, peer educators will conduct sex ed outreach at the University of Michigan, starting with a flash mob and a trivia game.

It is clear that there is a need for comprehensive sex education.  Every year, nearly 750,000 American teens4 become pregnant and one in four teen girls has an STD.5

And a recent survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in partnership with ESSENCE magazine, also pointed out that while teen pregnancy and birthrates are significantly down overall among all racial and ethnic groups over the past decade, it is still true that one in two African-American girls will become pregnant before age 20.  That is nearly twice the national average.  Latino teen girls are also three times more likely than non-Hispanic white teen girls to become pregnant.6

“Obviously, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to better educate young people about sex and sexual health,” said Richards.  “While the recent commitment to federal funding for comprehensive sex education is a major step forward, we need to ensure that all young people have access to comprehensive sex education.

As the result of legislation passed and signed in 2010, Congress and President Obama created PREP, the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which dedicated $75 million a year in funding including $55 million a year to states to fund comprehensive sex education programs for the first time ever.

Comprehensive sex education also enjoys broad public support.  Numerous medical and scientific organizations support comprehensive sex education, including the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.  A majority of voters show wide-ranging support in nearly every demographic category, including Republicans, Democrats and independents, as well as Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians.



[1] http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2004293974_sexed20m.html


[2] http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/ea2007/


[3] http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_SE.pdf


[4] Guttmacher Institute. (2010). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute.


[5] Forhan, Sara E., et al. (2009). “Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Female Adolescents Aged 14 to 19 in the United States.” Pediatrics, 124 (6), 1505-1512.


[6] Guttmacher Institute. (2010). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


September 22, 2011


June 05, 2014