Sacramento – Governor Brown has signed legislation that would update the state’s sexual health and HIV prevention curriculum to provide instruction that is more up-to-date, comprehensive and inclusive of LGBT people and their families. The bill, AB 329, was authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) and sponsored by Equality California, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, the ACLU of California and Forward Together.
“LGBT people and our families have been absent for too long from sex-ed materials available to students, leaving our youth feeling invisible and stigmatized” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Age-appropriate, medically accurate, LGBT-inclusive education improves school climate overall and creates a safer environment for LGBT students.”
AB 329 updates statutory language to reflect today’s understanding of HIV and AIDS by ensuring that students receive comprehensive and accurate information about HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.
“Our schools are a critical environment for providing young people with the knowledge and skills that they will need to protect their sexual health,” Weber said. “This is about empowering all young men and women – whatever their orientation or gender – to make the healthiest decisions possible.”
The bill will also clarify and bolster existing requirements that instruction and materials be appropriate for students of all sexual orientations and genders. It includes new language on adolescent relationship abuse and sex trafficking, and reinforces healthy behaviors and relationships.
“This legislation ensures that all students have access to medically accurate and unbiased sexual health education,” said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “By affirmatively recognizing that people have different sexual orientations and teaching pupils about gender identity, LGBTQ youth will be safer in school.”
Rates of sexually transmitted infections are rising in California, and are highest among young people ages 15-24. California’s teen birth rate remains higher than that of other industrialized countries, and over 80% of births to teens are unintended.
Comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education has been shown to be effective in both delaying sexual activity and increasing condom and contraceptive use among youth who are already sexually active. LGBT-inclusive education has also been shown to have a positive effect on school climate and make LGBT youth feel safer at school.
The bill also allows students to opt out of instruction under certain conditions.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org