Pass Comprehensive Sex Education in PA

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From the Philadelphia Inquirer on November 6, 2019

Fifty-plus years ago, kids like me were too embarrassed to have the birds-and-bees talk with our parents. On TV, in the movies, and in magazines, we were hit with distorted images of how our bodies should look and peer pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend no matter what it took. Meanwhile, schools taught anatomy and left it at that.

Today, it’s no better. In fact it’s arguably worse. Computer-savvy adolescents and teens glued to their smartphones have easy access to pornography. Whether curious or anxious to present themselves as cool, they receive and sometimes share sexually explicit texts and photos on social media. Kids often lack the information, self-esteem, and tools to navigate this world. The absence of comprehensive sex ed hits LGBTQ kids especially hard. It’s no coincidence that disturbingly high numbers of LGBTQ kids attempt suicide or drop out of school.

Now we have a chance to do right by them. A bill in Harrisburg would require comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sexuality education in Pennsylvania’s public schools. Introduced by Brian Sims, House Bill 1586 would be a lifeline for countless children to get informed, recognize the agency of consent, and stay safe. For elementary school students, concepts such as “good touch vs. bad touch” would be introduced. For older students, curricula would include contraception methods, and help teens identify and avoid risky behaviors and harmful relationships.