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Comprehensive sex
education bill reintroduced in Congress

Comprehensive sex
education bill reintroduced in Congress

Members of Congress reintroduced a bill Thursday that would provide grants for comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education. Currently the federal government is slated to spend more than $1 billion in abstinence-only sex education through 2008, which neglects to educate about homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or birth control. Meanwhile, federal funding is denied to institutions that provide comprehensive sex education.

The Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act is sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and would grant $206 million per year to states for comprehensive sex education.

A press release issued by the legislators cites that of the 19 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases annually in the United States, almost half of them strike people ages 15 to 24.

"We need to get REAL about sex education," Lee said in the press release. "We should absolutely be teaching young people about abstinence, but we shouldn't be holding back information that can save lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead of 'abstinence only,' what we're proposing is 'abstinence-plus.' "

"Growing up isn't easy, and our kids find themselves in tough situations every day," Lauenberg said in the press release. "They need all the information to make smart choices, and 'abstinence-only' programs are not enough. It's time to bring sex education up to date to reflect the real-life situations facing young Americans."

Human Rights Campaign, as well as the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.; AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families; and the National Education Association, have come out in support of the bill since the first time it was introduced in 2005.

"Our nation's youth deserve the facts about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a press release. "The federal government has tied states' hands when it comes to providing prevention education to teens. It's time to ensure that states can provide comprehensive sex education that gives students the tools they need to make responsible decisions." (The Advocate)

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