On Monday, March 14, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts was joined Boston City Councilor At-Large by Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley and Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, as well as over 60 local Jamaica Plain and Boston residents and activists for a community event to “Stand Up for Sex Ed,” in support of the Healthy Youth Act, a bill to expand access to comprehensive sex education in Massachusetts.
This important bill would ensure that if a public school in Massachusetts elects to teach sexuality education, it will select a curriculum that is medically accurate, age appropriate and truly comprehensive.
At the event, several high school and college students spoke out and advocated for the education that their peers and their communities need. These speakers discussed why the Healthy Youth Act is so essential in ensuring that if schools are teaching sex ed in Massachusetts, they will cover important topics like delaying sexual activity, sexual orientation, consent and healthy relationships, birth control and protection methods, and preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
In addition to the powerful youth speakers at the event, parents, teachers and elected officials spoke of the bill as being smart public policy that helps empower young people with the tools they need to make healthy and informed decisions and combats the health inequities disproportionately impacting young people of color and LGBTQ youth across the state.
A key message repeatedly said throughout the event was around the critical need for schools to teach about the communications skills needed to form healthy, respectful relationships free from violence and coercion in an effort to prevent teen dating violence, unhealthy relationships and sexual assault.
Chang-Díaz, who I’m proud to say is the state Senator from my district, pointed to the impressive progress the Healthy Youth Act has seen this legislative session, passing the Massachusetts Senate in November 2015. Then Pressley closed out the speaking program by reminding us all of three simple things when it comes to sex education:
“Kids need it, parents want it, and science says it works!”
While the Stand up for Sex Ed event may be over, our work to get the bill signed into law is not! Now the Massachusetts House of Representatives must pass the bill so we can get it to Governor Baker’s desk and signed into law before the legislative session ends. Want to get involved? Join the Sex Ed Matters movement today!