February 19, 2013 — Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would provide five-year grants to comprehensive sex education programs that reject gender stereotypes and accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/14).
Meanwhile, Illinois Reps. Randy Hultgren (R) and Daniel Lipinski (D) on Thursday re-introduced the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act (HR 718), which would provide federal funding to programs that encourage delaying sexual intercourse until marriage. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) plans to introduce a companion measure, according to the National Abstinence Education Association, which is supporting the bill (Nelson, U.S. News & World Report, 2/14).
Lee and Lautenberg's Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, which has 32 Democratic supporters, would support programs that provide "age and developmentally appropriate" instruction on abstinence and safer sex, as well as the benefits and side effects of various contraceptive methods. In addition, the measure would require programs to promote emotional skills and "healthy attitudes and values" regarding body image, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Under the bill, sex education programs would not be allowed to "promote gender stereotypes," be "insensitive and unresponsive" to LGBT students, or "deliberately withhold" information about HIV. The bill would require that curricula refer students to local clinics for more information on sexual and reproductive health.
Priority would be given to programs that serve communities with high rates of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections or sexual assault. In addition, certain programs would be required to report data on their students' sexual activity to federal officials as part of a broader effort to evaluate sex education programs ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/14).
NAEA President Valerie Huber criticized the comprehensive sex education bill, arguing that it "provides harmful messaging that puts teens at risk by suggesting that condoms make sex safe." She said Hultgren and Lipinski's measure provides teens with "practical skills for them to succeed in achieving optimal sexual health" (U.S. News & World Report, 2/14).