Illinois action blog

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Comprehensive Sex Ed Week of Action from PPIA!

This week is Comprehensive Sex Ed Week of Action! Planned Parenthood supporters, peer educators, and Advocates for Choice campus chapters will be sponsoring grassroots events highlighting widespread support for comprehensive sex education and thanking elected leaders who support comprehensive sex education.

With today being the official first day of fall and schools across the country getting back in session (not to mention the election inching closer), now's the perfect time to think about the quality of education we're providing for our children and teenagers. Did you know that 750,000 American teenagers get pregnant and 4,000,000 contract a sexually transmitted disease EVERY YEAR? What this means is something is seriously missing from our country's sex education. Fact-based, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education is proven time and time again to decrease rates of teen pregnancies and STIs as well as delaying the onset of sexual activity. But despite the truth, 1/3 of sex education programs in the US omit birth control! And nearly 40% of Illinois students who receive sexual health education are taught an abstinence-only curriculum! Abstinence-only education is hiding the truth from our sons and daughters. So we're here to tell you what is being done about this by the government and by Planned Parenthood, and what YOU can do to end abstinence-only education.

The health reform bill passed into law this year features the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). PREP provides $55 million for states to fund evidence-based sex education programs. These programs teach students how to prevent pregnancies and STIs (including HIV/AIDS), make responsible decisions, and develop critical skills to form healthy relationships with parents, peers and partners. These programs reiterate that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy and STIs, but also gives students the information they need to be safe if they so choose to be sexually active. Good thinking, Obama!

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is proud to sponsor our Teen Awareness Group (TAG). TAG is a program that intensively trains teens to become peer educators in their communities and discuss sex, contraception, STI prevention, and other issues with their peers. Our programs, currently based in Bloomington, Champaign, and Decatur reach over 25,000 community members in need of sexual health education every year. The ultimate goal of our TAG program is to reduce rates of pregnancy and STIs among teens by working to replace fear, misinformation, and risky behavior with education, information, and responsible decision making. We couldn't be prouder of our educators who are making a difference by finally giving high school and college students the opportunity to talk about sex and related issues openly and truthfully. As one of our own peer educators at Decatur said, “We all have the right to understand our bodies and learn how to make the right choices. We are all humans and sex is a natural part of life. It's not something we should be ashamed of.” If you want more information about TAG or would like to get involved, e-mail us at TAG@ppil.org.

So what can YOU do to celebrate Planned Parenthood's Comprehensive Sex Ed Week of Action? First, contact your members of Congress and ask them to further support comprehensive sex education by backing the Lautenberg-Lee bill, which would end funding for ineffective, abstinence-only programs. You can also thank them for accepting PREP funding. Second, sign this petition sponsored by Advocates for Youth to help 122 youth activists end funding for abstinence-only education. And finally, make sure you are always honest and open with your children about sexual health and safe sexual practices.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood's local education programs, click here.

Technorati tags: Comprehensive Sex Ed Week of Action, sex ed, TAG, peer educators, health care reform

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