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Year End Victories for Sex Ed

Year End Victories for Sex Ed

December 2015 brought about two pieces of great news for supporters of comprehensive sexuality education!

First, on December 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. The bill includes new language specifying health as part of a “well-rounded education,” as well as new provisions to “improve instructional practices for developing relationship-building skills.” Both of these would render state and local education agencies eligible to receive and utilize Title IV funding specifically for sexuality education. This additional available funding has the potential to provide sex ed programming to many students across the United States, and is an exciting victory for the sex ed community.

The passage of the budget also provided several wins for sex ed. Earlier this year, I blogged about the Office of Adolescent Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), and how its funding was at stake. Excitingly, the FY 2016 budget included the same amount of funding for TPPP as last year, appropriating 101 million dollars for TPPP, and 6.8 million dollars for TPPP evaluation efforts. With level funding, the program can continue to do great work of providing teens with medically accurate and comprehensive information to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In addition, the budget included 33.1 million dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), which is a two million dollar increase over last year's funding level. DASH allocates funding to help schools implement effective HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention programs that are based on the best available science.

While it is important to celebrate social justice victories, it is also important to remember that there is still more work to be done. For example, in addition to the funding mentioned above, Congress also doubled funding for abstinence-only education programs for fiscal year 2016.

Young people need and deserve comprehensive sexuality education, and the Reform Movement has supported this idea through its resolutions. Further, in Jewish tradition, the guiding principle of sexuality is k'doshim tih'yu, “You shall be holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Providing young people with sexuality education that is broad, comprehensive, age appropriate, and scientifically accurate is the best way that we can achieve the goal of holiness.

To learn more about sexuality education, visit our issue page or the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) website.  

Tracy Wolf was a 2015-2016 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), and currently serves as the RAC's Leadership Development Associate. Originally from Syosset, N.Y., she is a member of North Shore Synagogue and a graduate of Dickinson College.

Tracy Wolf

Published: 12/29/2015