EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 28, 2014

Letter: Students need more than abstinence-only sex education

To the editor:

Massachusetts boasts some of the best schools in the country. Our students also deserve the best health education – especially since 68 percent of our state’s chlamydia cases occur in people ages 15 to 24. As a parent and a director of the Teen Parenting Program at the Lawrence YWCA, I hope state Rep. Brian Dempsey of Haverhill will support the Healthy Youth Act, common sense legislation that ensures young people have the information they need to make smart, healthy decisions.

Currently, some students in Massachusetts still receive ineffective abstinence-only sexuality education. That flies in the face of research that shows that abstinence-only strategies may actually increase teen pregnancy rates. Fortunately, research also shows that teaching topics like healthy relationships, communication skills and STD prevention alongside abstinence in sexuality education classes works to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep young people healthy.

The Healthy Youth Act won’t force schools to teach sexuality education. But the Healthy Youth Act will ensure that if a school teaches sexuality education, its curriculum will be comprehensive, age-appropriate and medically accurate. It’s time that research, not politics, dictates what’s best for our young people.

Let’s pass the Healthy Youth Act to ensure no more Massachusetts students receive inaccurate or incomplete information about their health when they return to school next fall.

Lilliam Rivera


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