WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Human Rights Campaign hailed the re-introduction of the Responsible Education about Life (REAL) Act today in the 111th Congress. The bill, sponsored by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), would authorize federal funding for comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.
“Our nation’s youth deserve the facts about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “The federal government has tied states’ hands when it comes to providing prevention education to teens. We thank Representative Lee, Senator Lautenberg and all of the congressional supporters of this legislation for their commitment to the health of our nation's youth.”
Currently, states can only receive federal funding for sex education if they teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are prohibited from openly discussing condoms and other forms of contraception. In addition, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion providing funding to abstinence-only programs whose federal guidelines mandate defining marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife.”
“It’s time to ensure that states can provide comprehensive sex education that gives students the tools they need to make responsible decisions. The needs of the vast majority of American students, especially LGBT students, are currently ignored by federally funded sex education programs,” added Solmonese. “Sex education must be based on public health, not narrow right-wing ideology. We urge members from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor and support this critical legislation.”
The re-introduction of the REAL Act comes in the same week the Washington Post reported that at least three percent of residents in the District of Columbia have HIV or AIDS, making the diseases a “severe” epidemic. Nearly 3,000 residents per every 100,000 over the age of 12, or 15,120, are living with HIV or AIDS, according to the 2008 epidemiology report by the District's HIV/AIDS office.
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