WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA), legislation that seeks to support the health and well-being of young people by providing the comprehensive education they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions. The legislation was initially introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Booker’s predecessor Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who championed this cause in the Senate.
Booker was joined by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) who cosponsored the bill.
“The alarming statistics reveal that we are failing to adequately educate many of our young people so that they can make responsible, informed decisions regarding their sexual health.” said Sen. Booker. “The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act promotes access to life-saving, comprehensive, inclusive information on everything from prevention of disease and pregnancy to dating violence and sexual harassment on college campuses - all with the goal of helping young people lead happier, healthier lives.”
“Our young people deserve comprehensive and evidence-based sex education so they can make healthy decisions and have healthy relationships,” said Rep. Lee (D-CA), who introduced the House companion version of REHYA with the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). “As a leader who continues to have a positive impact on the lives of young people, I thank Senator Cory Booker for joining me in advancing this important legislation to ensure that all young people have medically-accurate information to make healthy, responsible choices.”
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act:
· Supports access to information regarding anatomy and physiology; growth and development; healthy relationships; prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV through abstinence and contraception; gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation; dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment prevention.
· Requires that programs be evidence based, medically accurate, developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate; inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer (LGBTQ) students; and promotes education achievement, critical thinking, decision-making, and self-efficacy.
Young people who receive sexual health education are: 50% less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy; 31% less likely to contract an STI; and more likely to delay sexual activity and use contraception upon becoming sexually active. Sexual health education that includes information beyond abstinence has been found to delay sexual intercourse, increase condom or contraceptive use, reduce the number of partners among young people, and decrease physical aggression with intimate partners.
Young people ages 15–25 contract half of the 19 million Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) each year, despite making up only a quarter of the sexually active population, and young people under the age of 25 accounted for 1 in 5 new HIV infections. Despite historic declines, the U.S. has the highest rate of unintended teen pregnancy among comparable countries and limited resources available for young parents. Three-quarters of LGBT students report harassment; 56% report feeling unsafe; and nearly a third skipped at least one day of school in the month prior to reporting due to concerns about their safety. Approximately one in three young women in the U.S. experiences physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
Supporting Organizations include:
Advocates for Youth • AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families • The AIDS Institute • AIDS United • American Association of University Women (AAUW) • American Atheists, Inc. • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists • American Humanist Association • American Psychological Association • BiNet USA • Catholics for Choice • Center for Inquiry • Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers • Freedom From Religion Foundation • Girls Inc • GLSEN • Guttmacher Institute • Healthy Teen Network • Human Rights Campaign • In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda • Lambda Legal • Marriage Equality USA • National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors • National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition • National Black Justice Coalition • National Center for Lesbian Rights • National Center for Transgender Equality • National Coalition for LGBT Health • National Council of Jewish Women • National Health Law Program • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health • National Network of Abortions Funds • National Partnership for Women & Families • National Women’s Law Center • Physicians for Reproductive Health • Planned Parenthood Federation of America • Positive Women’s Network-USA • Reason Rally Coalition, Inc. • Secular Coalition for America • Secular Student Alliance • Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) • Society for Humanistic Judaism • Union for Reform Judaism • Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association • URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity • Young Black Gay Leadership Initiative