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We can honor and affirm the experiences of Rhode Island’s LGBTQ+ community by passing legislation that provides LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed curricula, access to gender inclusive bathrooms, and protections for those born with intersex characteristics from unnecessary surgical and emotional harm as children. Read more about each bill below.

Update Rhode Island's Sex Ed Curriculum (H5604 and S463)

Right now, middle- and high-school students in Rhode Island are not receiving adequate and comprehensive sexual education in public schools. We need to make sure that all students have access to sexual education that is medically accurate, inclusive, and pleasure-based. The General Assembly is considering a bill that will ensure that Rhode Island students receive comprehensive, empowering, affirming sexual education.

What this bill will achieve:

  • All schools grades 6 through 12 will have sexual education programs that are appropriate for students of all races, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds
  • Sexual education programs must address gender identity and expression and the harm of negative gender stereotypes
  • Sexual education programs will affirmatively recognize pleasure-based sexuality and different sexual orientations
  • Sexual education programs and lessons will include same-sex relationships in discussion and examples

Why this bill is important:

  • Only 11 states and DC require discussion of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships to be inclusive and affirming. (Guttmacher Institute)
  • 6 states require providing negative information on homosexuality and/or positive emphasis on heterosexuality. (Guttmacher Institute)
  • Ignoring LGBTQ+ identities in sexual education curriculum further marginalizes and stigmatizes LGBTQ+ youth and puts them at greater risk for STDs/STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and unhealthy or abusive relationships.
  • According to SEICUS, schools’ tendencies to perpetuate negative or “othering” attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people place them at greater risk of violence and create significant sexual and reproductive health disparities – particularly among young LGBTQ+ people of color.

  • 41 states do not require sex education to be culturally appropriate and unbiased. (Guttmacher Institute)
  • Evidence suggests that comprehensive sex education helps young people have healthy and responsible relationships. Ensuring pleasure-based sex education will help de-stigmatize sex and allow students to build safer sexual relationships. (Guttmacher Institute)

Protection of Youth with Variations in Physical Sex Characteristics (S0593 and H6171)

Approximately 1-2% of people are born with variations in bodily sex characteristics – such as genitalia, reproductive organs, and chromosomes – sometimes referred to as intersex traits. People with these variations have always existed, and awareness is increasing about the diversity of human bodies. All people deserve to have the same bodily autonomy, dignity, and respect, regardless of their characteristics at birth.

The Protection of Youth with Variations in Physical Sex Characteristics Act will ensure that no children born with intersex characteristics will be unnecessarily or harmfully operated upon. 

What this bill will achieve: 

  • Protect people born with variations in their sex characteristics from medically unnecessary surgeries during infancy 
  • Prohibits a specified list of surgeries on children born with variations in their physical sex characteristics: to reduce a clitoris, create a vagina, remove gonads, or move a working urinary opening.
  • Ensure that life-altering choices about their bodies and, in some cases, gender identities are not forced upon them soon after they are born

Learn more about this bill using this Fact Sheet.

Gender Inclusive Restroom Act (H5741) 

The Gender Inclusive Restroom Act will ensure that gender-inclusive restrooms will be available in all public buildings, making certain that everyone has a space in which they feel comfortable to use to restroom in public. Making gender inclusive restrooms accessible will decrease incidents of harassment, assault, or feelings of being threatened in the bathroom for those of various gender identities.

Together, we were able to pass this important act in the House! This brings us one step closer to ensuring that everyone has a restroom in public places that is comfortable for their gender identity. Let’s ensure the Senate passes this bill.

What this bill will achieve:

  • Amend building codes to require all single-use restrooms in public buildings or places of public accommodation be gender-inclusive
  • Require new buildings to provide a single-use non-gendered bathroom by 2023

Read more about this bill here or here.

Want to get more involved? Email [email protected] to learn how you can take action!

Tags: legislation, LGBTQ, Rhode Island, LGBTQ_rights, sex_ed