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healthy youth act
The Healthy Youth Act requires sex education taught in Wisconsin public schools to be medically accurate, age-appropriate and comprehensive.
The Healthy Youth Act was signed into law by Governor Doyle on February 24, 2010.
Repeal of the Healthy Youth Act
Passed in the Senate 17-16 on 11/2/11
Passed in the Assembly 60-34 on 3/13/12
Signed into law by Governor Walker on 4/5/12
The Healthy Youth Act that was passed in 2010 ensures sex education taught in Wisconsin public schools is medically accurate, age-appropriate and comprehensive. The Healthy Youth Act gives teens the tools they need to stay healthy now and in the future.
It's outrageous! Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) has introduced a bill to repeal the Healthy Youth Act. This dangerous bill will leave teens in the dark:
- Deny teens information about contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
- Refuse to give teens the skills they need to make responsible decisions about sexual behavior.
- Require a return to failed abstinence-only until marriage instruction.
- Gut the definition of "medically accurate".
- Remove parents' right to know if sex education being taught in the classroom.
- Ban volunteer doctors and nurses from teaching sex education in schools.
As a parent, I know how important education is to my daughter, including sex education. My daughter, Kira, deserves to have good, evidence-based, comprehensive education on all topics in school so she can grow up to be a responsible adult who makes informed decisions.
My wife Linda passed away four years ago when Kira was thirteen. That loss was devastating to our family. In addition to becoming a single father, I became Kira's primary sex education teacher. And despite our strong relationship and good communication, I was not foolish enough to think I could do this alone. Over the last four years I have reached out to Kira's physician, her school teachers, guidance counselors, and Planned Parenthood. The help I have received is invaluable.
As a parent, I know my daughter has questions about her body and yes, about sex. Ending comprehensive sex education from schools will, despite my best efforts, leave some of those questions unanswered. I find it particularly concerning that Republican legislators went so far as to ban doctors from providing this information in the classroom and removed the requirement that a school must inform me of what they do, or do not, teach Kira. How will I, and parents like me, know what sex education is taking place in my daughter's classroom? And if doctors are no longer allowed to provide this instruction and the curriculum no longer needs to be 'medically accurate' just what kind of information will Kira receive?
Why is taking away education on critical topics from Wisconsin teens, like my daughter, the priority of our state legislators?
Paul Crumb, Monona
What is Responsible Sex Education:
- Is age-appropriate, medically accurate and comprehensive. It includes information about both abstinence and birth control as ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Gives teens and young adults the tools they need to stay healthy now and in the future.
- Does not increase sexual activity. Studies show that they can help young people delay sex and increase the use of contraceptives among those teens having sex (Kirby, 2001; Kaplan, 2001).
- Delays teen sexual behavior, and reduce the incidents of teen pregnancy and STDs.
- Provides young people with knowledge about the risks and consequences of pregnancy and STDs. They include medically accurate and age-appropriate information about abstinence and contraception.
- Gives teens the life skills they need to say no to sex; to insist on contraception; and to communicate with parents or other trusted adults about these issues.
- Is supported by the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, and the National Education Association.
The Consequences of Unprotected Teen Sex are Staggering
- 45% of high schoolers self-report that they are currently sexually active. Yet only 61% of those teens used a condom during their last sexual counter.
- According to a 2008 study by the CDC, 1 in 4 young women has an STD.
- Nearly 6,000 Wisconsin teen girls will get pregnant this year with many of them dropping out of school and onto safety net programs that cost tax payers an estimated $158 million each year.
- 27% of new HIV infections in Wisconsin are diagnosed in young people ages 15-24.
- Children born to teen mothers are 9 times more likely to live in poverty. And only 40% of teen moms graduate from high school, compared to 75% of young women who post-pone childbearing to age 20-21. (Why it Matters: Teen Pregnancy and Education, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unintended Pregnancy).
Abstinence-Only Education has Failed Young People
- There has not been a single study showing that abstinence-only sex education has any positive impact on teen behavior.
The Healthy Youth Act:
The Healthy Youth Act ensures that the most current standards of sex education are being taught in Wisconsin and that public schools are using programs proven to reduce teen pregnancy and STD rates by:
- Ensuring that Wisconsin public schools that opt to teach sex education do so in a medically accurate and age-appropriate way, including information about both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancies and STDs;
- Requiring a school board choosing not to provide sex education notify parents that their student will not receive any instruction in preventing unintended pregnancies and STDs;
- Directing the state to apply for any federal teen pregnancy prevention funds available to the states.