Each year approximately 750,000 American teenagers become pregnant. An estimated 37,000 of these teenagers are from Illinois, which accounts for 5% of the nation’s teenage pregnancies. Additionally, roughly nine million new sexually transmitted infections occur in young adults each year. Within Illinois, adolescents are contracting sexually transmitted infections faster than any other age group. What these statistics tell us is that the current form of sex education (or lack thereof) in many Illinois schools is failing our youth.
Illinois state education regulations do NOT require the inclusion of sex education within school curricula. The state allows each school to decide how and whether it wants to educate its students about sexual health. Furthermore, if the school does choose to provide sex education, the curriculum is required to stress abstinence, but does not have to provide information about contraceptives.
PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program) is the first state-grant program from the federal government that funds comprehensive sex education. PREP provides $55 million for states to fund evidence-based sex education programs that meet the needs of young people by teaching teens how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, protect their health, make responsible decisions, and learn critical skills needed to form healthy relationships with parents, peers, and partners.
Numerous medical and scientific organizations support comprehensive sexuality education, including:
- American Public Health Association
- American Medical Association
- Society for Adolescent Medicine
- American Academy of Pediatrics
This type of public support was evident at the State Fair, with multiple people coming up to our table just to say "thank you" for promoting more comprehensive sex education. Thanks to all the volunteers and participants who signed our petitions and spread the word by wearing pink!
Learn more about PREP here.
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