Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund applauds Senate’s Passage of the Healthy Youth Act

The bill empowering young people to stay safe and healthy now moves to the House

BOSTON— The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts (PPAF) applauds the Massachusetts Senate’s passage of An Act Relative to Healthy Youth, a bill that would guarantee that any Massachusetts public school electing to teach sex education selects a curriculum that is medically accurate, age-appropriate, and truly comprehensive.

A comprehensive sex education curriculum teaches students about abstinence and delaying sexual activity, while also providing information about effective contraceptive use and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections so students can make healthy, informed decisions. Such curricula also teach communication skills that help students build healthy relationships that are free of coercion, and offer nonjudgmental LGBTQ-inclusive instruction.

“The Healthy Youth Act is a commonsense public health policy that will help communities combat sexual assault and teen dating violence, the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections among our state’s young people, and the persisting disparities in unintended pregnancy rates. We applaud the Senate for prioritizing the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts’ young people and safeguarding them from the dangers of non-inclusive, inadequate, misleading or biased sex education. We call on the House to do the same.

- Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts

The Senate’s overwhelming approval of the Healthy Youth Act reflects the values of Massachusetts voters. A June 2017 poll commissioned by PPAF in June 2017 found 79 percent of Massachusetts voters believe sex education should be taught in middle school and 92 percent of Massachusetts voters believe it should be taught in High school. The poll also found 89 percent of Massachusetts voters believe sex education classes should teach a comprehensive curriculum that includes the benefits of abstinence, as well as information about how students can stay healthy should they choose not to abstain. 

Background

An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S. 234) is sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representatives Jim O’Day and Paul Brodeur (H. 2053). Originally filed in 2011, the bill first passed the Senate in November 2015.

A long list of widely respected national organizations  support comprehensive sex education, including the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, The American Medical Association,  the American Nurses Association,  the American Academy of Pediatrics,  the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,  the American Public Health Association,  the Institute of Medicine,  the Society of Adolescent Medicine,  the American Federation of Teachers,  the National Education Association,  and the National School Boards Association.

Strong evidence suggests that comprehensive approaches to sex education help young people both withstand the pressures to have sex too soon and have healthy, responsible and mutually protective relationships when they do become sexually active. In 2007, a federally funded report of four abstinence-only education programs “showed that youth enrolled in the programs were no more likely than those not in the programs to delay sexual initiation, to have fewer sexual partners, or to abstain entirely from sex.”