Democratic Bill Would Expand Grants for Comprehensive Sex Education
November 4, 2011 — House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would provide federal grants to high schools and colleges for comprehensive sex education programs, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports. The House bill (HR 3324) was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), while the Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would expand "age-appropriate comprehensive sex education programs" that are "medically accurate and evidence-based." The bill specifies that no federal funds would be given to programs that withhold information about HIV/AIDS, are "medically inaccurate or have been scientifically shown to be ineffective," promote gender stereotypes, or are "insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active adolescents" or "the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth."
The bill also stipulates that grantees include information about abstinence, methods to prevent pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections, and how to avoid abusive relationships. Educational institutions that serve "needy students" and minorities would be given priority under the measure.
The bill would require HHS to measure the effectiveness of programs that receive grants. The assessment would evaluate whether students' behaviors changed as a result of the program and measure students' knowledge and skills in areas such as decision-making and condom use.
Lee said, "Research has shown programs that combine information about abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use among teens."
The bill does not recommend a specific funding level for the grants but would authorize appropriations deemed "necessary" to fulfill the bill's objectives (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 11/3).