**Cross posted on Amplify**
Last Tuesday, March 10th, was Adolescent Health Advocacy Day in NC. Over 200 youth activists and state officials gathered at the NC capitol to learn about effective advocacy and important issues like comprehensive sex education, teen pregnancy, mental health, and physical health. The morning featured youth speakers and state senators and representatives speaking about why we needed to make our voices heard.
After the morning program, we all marched through the state capitol to the House Education Committee hearing of the Healthy Youth Act (HB 88). We watched anxiously as both opponents and supporters of the bill spoke. Eventually they went to a vote and the Healthy Youth Act PASSED by vote of 32-21. There was loud applause from all 200 teenagers watching the proceedings, and as an activist who has been lobbying for this bill for some months now, I was extremely happy to see it pass in the education committee. The bill still has a long way to go, it will be heard in the House Health Committee next, and if it passes there it will go to a vote for in entire House. If it passes in the house, it will have to go through the Senate and pass there as well.
In North Carolina, 55 teen girls become pregnant every single day, and that’s 20,000 teen pregnancies a year. North Carolina also ranks 5th in HIV contraction. Teen pregnancy cost North Carolina more then three hundred million dollars last year, and only about 3 million was spent on prevention. Abstinence only programs have completely failed teenagers for over a decade in NC, and its time for a change. This isn't an issue of politics or an issue about sex; it’s an issue about HEALTH. Nothing is ever gained from withholding information, and comprehensive sex education will provide teens with the information they need to make safe, healthy choices. For more information about North Carolina and sexual Health, Click here
Currently, North Carolina's health curriculum in middle and high school is abstinence-only-until-marriage. It teaches that teens should wait to have sex until they are in a “committed heterosexual marriage,” and it gives no accurate or useful information about safe sex. NC’s abstinence-only programs exaggerate the risks of sex and only talks about condoms and contraception in terms of failure rates.
Comprehensive sex education provides teens with complete information about both abstinence AND safe sex. Comprehensive sex ed. has been shown to delay sexual initiation and teens who do decide to have sex are much more likely to use protection. Comprehensive sex education is a common sense, highly needed way to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in our state. Click here to see a comparison chart of abstinence-only classes and comprehensive sex education classes.
The Healthy Youth Act would require schools to offer a two-track system for teaching sexuality education in North Carolina – one for abstinence-until-marriage programs and another for comprehensive sex ed. Parents decide which track their child will take. This bill is fair and logical, and it lets parents decide what information is appropriate for their children.
The Healthy Youth Act has a very long way to go, and we need everyone’s help to make it law. Please contact your state officials and tell them to Support the Healthy Youth Act. Also, click here to send a form letter to your representative asking them to support this important bill. ?We have a face book group for our efforts here in North Carolina, and if you are interested in getting involved please join the group.
We are facing a health crisis in NC, and enough is enough with failed abstinence only programs. Please take action so we can pass the Healthy Youth Act and make change happen here in NC.