A new sex education bill introduced in the House Thursday would provide five-year grants to programs that reject gender stereotypes and embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.
According to the Hill newspaper
, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and a group of 32 other Democrats, encourages a "comprehensive" approach to sex education.
The bill requires programs to emphasize emotional skills and the development of “healthy attitudes and values” about issues like body image, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It also sets strict standards to prevent the promotion of gender stereotypes, the deliberate withholding of information about HIV, and to ensure that programs are not "insensitive and unresponsive" to LGBT students.
The bill is expected to draw criticism from conservatives, especially provisions requiring curricula to refer interested students to local clinics for more information about sexual and reproductive health, and mandating that certain programs report information about their students’ sex lives to federal health officials.
The data, along with various reports about student progress, would be used to help evaluate the programs.
Lee praised the bill as a way to give "young people the information they need . . . to live healthy lives."
"Research has shown that programs which teach abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use among teens," she said in a statement. "These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV."
The grants would go to state and local education agencies, non-profit organizations, and public universities.
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