Tell your state rep: Massachusetts demands Healthy Youth

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The need for comprehensive sex education has never been more urgent. The #MeToo movement is a much needed and long overdue wake-up call for so many people. What it tells us is that we need to do more to educate our young people about healthy relationships, consent, and respect. The Healthy Youth Act would do just that by ensuring when public schools in Massachusetts teach sex ed, they use a curriculum that’s medically accurate, LGBTQ-inclusive, and teach how to prevent STIs and pregnancy, as well as the importance of consent and healthy relationships.

Email your state representative and urge them to pass the Healthy Youth Act.

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Massachusetts youth deserve the tools to make healthy decisions

Dear [Decision Maker],

Please help pass An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (H. 3704). This bill, known as the Healthy Youth Act, is commonsense legislation that would ensure that public school districts that choose to offer sex education provide their students with age-appropriate, medically accurate information. The bill is not a mandate and retains parental and guardian discretion to remove their children from school-based sex education.

The need for comprehensive sex education has never been more urgent. As the #MeToo movement raises a much-needed focus on the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, we must consider how to stop this cultural disease in its tracks. According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 9 percent of Massachusetts teens reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact. This trend only continues. Sixty New England colleges reported 784 "forcible sex offenses" in 2015. We can combat sexual assault at its roots by teaching young people how to ask for and recognize consent, before they become sexually active.

The rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in Massachusetts, and young people, particularly LGBTQ youth, are disproportionately affected. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health found 64 percent of chlamydia cases and 43 percent of gonorrhea cases occurred among young people ages 15 to 24 in 2014. Many young people are not being given the tools to prevent STIs--just 52 percent of Massachusetts teens were taught how to use condoms in school in 2015, according to YRBS data.

The Trump Administration is attacking sex education. It has already backed out of funding evidence-based programs that prevent teen pregnancy and wants to reinvest in ineffectual abstinence-only programs. Trump administration officials and its members claim contraception doesn't work, promote the rhythm method, are intent on blocking low income people from preventive sexual health care, and has fired every member of the national HIV/AID Advisory Council. Massachusetts must send a message to the rest of the country that we reject junk science and we stand strong against these dangerous views.

The Healthy Youth Act has overwhelming, bipartisan support. In 2017, 92 percent of registered Massachusetts voters said they believe students should receive sex education in high school and 89 percent agreed that sex education should include information about how students can stay healthy should they choose to become sexually active. The Healthy Youth Act is endorsed by a large, diverse coalition of medical professionals, educators, researchers, and advocates.

Comprehensive sex education is essential to the health and wellbeing of our community. Please work to pass the Healthy Youth Act today.

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