By Selena Torrado
National Youth Advisory Board Member (NYAB)
If you are visiting this website, you probably have an interest in promoting healthy relationships, either for yourself, your loved ones or your community. Well good news, healthy relationship advocates — I have an opportunity for you to do so on a national scale!
Show your support for the Real Education For Healthy Youth (REHY) Act, a comprehensive sex education vision bill that would mandate a healthy relationships curriculum to be included in sex ed at high schools and universities across the United States. Read on to learn what exactly the bill would do and what you can do to help it pass in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
What Would The Real Education For Healthy Youth Act Do?
The REHY act outlines criteria for content in federally-funded sex education programs. The bill provides funding for comprehensive sexual health education programs which, among other things, include information on healthy relationships and protection from dating violence, sexual assault, bullying and harassment. All information taught would be required to be evidence based, medically accurate, age appropriate and inclusive of all students — be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual.
Who Is Provided Funding Under The Real Education For Healthy Youth Act?
Federal funding would be provided to institutions teaching comprehensive sexual health education to adolescents and college students, including departments of education; nonprofit organizations; state, local, and tribal organizations; departments of health; and any institution of higher education. Priority funding is given to communities with high rates of health disparities in domestic violence, sexual assault, unintended pregnancy and STIs, ensuring that communities receive education tailored to their needs. Funding is also directed to teacher training for k-12 educators to increase effective teaching and student support.
Why Is a Healthy Relationships Curriculum as Mandated by the Real Education For Healthy Youth Act Necessary?
Too many American youth face bullying, harassment and dating violence. The statistics speak for themselves:
- Approximately one in three young people experience physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
- Eight out of ten LGBTQ students reported being harassed in the last year, three-fifths reported feeling unsafe and one-third skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of concerns about their safety.
- Surveys show that eight percent of high school students have been forced to have intercourse and ten percent have experienced dating violence.
We deserve better than that. Comprehensive sex education can give us the information we need to help prevent dating violence and bullying. One study reported that students were 60 percent less likely to perpetrate forms of dating violence against a partner after being taught a safe dating curriculum. Those of us who attend LGBTQ inclusive schools are less likely to feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation (42 percent vs. 64 percent) or gender expression (28 percent vs 41 percent) and about half as likely to miss school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable (17 percent vs. 31 percent).
By supporting the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, you are helping reduce these statistics and set yourself and your peers up for academic and emotional success. We young people have the right to lead healthy lives. We want to make responsible decisions about our health and well being. In order to do so, we must be provided with honest, age-appropriate sexual health education.
What Steps Can You, As A Young Person, Take To Help Pass The Real Education For Healthy Youth Act?
Contact your representative and ask them to be co-sponsors or champions (if they are already co-sponsors) of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. This is not at all as scary as it sounds! You can find your representative and their contact information at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.
Write them a letter, send them a tweet or give them a phone call — and tell them what this act means to you!