This Wednesday, around 100 people gathered in Springfield to lobby for comprehensive sexual health education in Illinois. Three packed buses left from Chicago, and many others drove in from all over the state to show their support. The Lobby Day was put on by the Campaign for Reproductive Health and Access, a broad coalition of women's, youth and reproductive health and justice organizations in Illinois.
Supporters lobbied for SB 1619, also known as the Illinois Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) Act. This act would require public schools that offer sexual health education classes to teach medically accurate, age-appropriate courses for adolescents in grades 6-12. This bill is a huge deal because it would give evidence-based, comprehensive information on sexual health to our teens, providing them with the necessary tools to protect themselves.
The PREP Act would not abolish the teaching of abstinence in schools. In fact, the bill would require instruction on abstinence from sexual
intercourse as the only protection that is 100% effective. It would also require the inclusion of information on contraception. Parents would also have the option to remove their children from the courses without penalty if they choose. Overall, the Illinois PREP approach would give teens a comprehensive, complete, and age-appropriate sex education program. It's common sense: by requiring schools to teach medically accurate, evidence-based sexual education, SB 1619 would reduce unintended pregnancies, STI's and HIV/AIDS in youth.
Senator Heather Steans, the lead sponsor of the bill, spoke to the crowd before they headed off to the Capitol Building. She thanked everyone for coming out to support the PREP Act and rallied the crowd! We'd like to thank Senator Steans for sponsoring such a groundbreaking bill. Thanks again to everyone else who joined us for Lobby Day--we loved seeing such a large group come together to speak out for this important issue!
The bill will be voted on in in the Illinois Senate by April 15, so make sure to send a letter
to your Senator urging him or her to vote YES on the Illinois Prep Act!