Advocates urge swift action by 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 ensure that a Massachusetts public school electing to teach sexuality education selects an appropriate curriculum that’s medically accurate, age-appropriate, and truly comprehensive.
Nearly 40% of high school students in Massachusetts have had sexual intercourse and nearly one in ten students reported four or more partners in their lives. Research shows that when young people are provided accurate information, acquire important communication skills and can access resources to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, they are better equipped to make safe decisions and form healthy relationships. Evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education, which includes all those elements, helps students delay sexual activity and reduces their risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STIs).
“The Healthy Youth Act is about keeping young people healthy and safeguarding them from the dangers of inadequate or misleading sexuality education,” said Tricia Wajda, PPAF Director of Public Affairs. “This is the kind of public health policy that will help communities keep their students in school and combat issues like sexual assault at its roots. We applaud the Senate for prioritizing the health of Massachusetts’ young people by passing the Healthy Youth Act and call on the House to follow suit and pass this legislation.”
An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S. 2048) is sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representatives Jim O’Day and Paul Brodeur (H. 3754). More than 60 legislators, parents, educators, and young people submitted testimony in favor of the Healthy Youth Act during the June 3rd hearing held by the Joint Committee on Education. The Committee issued its favorable report on September 9th. Originally filed in 2011, the bill was refiled in 2013 and 2015. This is the first legislative session for any chamber to vote to pass the bill.
93% of parents of middle school students and 91% of parents of high school students believe it is very or somewhat important to have sexuality education as part of the school curriculum.
In Massachusetts, the Healthy Youth Act is supported by a diverse coalition of educators, researchers, and advocates, including Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Association for School-Based Health Care, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, and the Wellesley Centers for Women.