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PA Teens Lobby Lawmakers For More Comprehensive Sex Ed

March 31, 2009

Harrisburg, PA - Teens from across Pennsylvania will have a rare chance to talk with their state lawmakers today - about sex. It's Planned Parenthood lobby day in Harrisburg. The young people attending today's rally want to see schools move away from abstinence-only sex education and toward more comprehensive "sex ed" programs, says high school senior Maddie Chandler.

"For teenagers to have all the information they can get, so they can make healthy choices and we can lower some sexually-transmitted disease rates and pregnancy rates."

Currently, states get federal dollars to teach abstinence-only programs. Supporters of such programs say they offer morel guidance, encouraging teens to steer away from sex until marriage and stressing that premarital sex can carry heavy physical and emotional costs.

Opponents say that approach denies teens who choose to have sex, the information they need to stay safe. Chandler maintains that some of her peers, who want to have sex, will do so. She believes a school's sex ed program should reflect that, in the issues it covers.

"Contraceptives and birth control, condom use and condom safety so if they do choose to have sex, then they're safe."

Chandler says she feels a measure of pride by taking part in a lobby day, although she acknowledges that the ultimate success of the students' efforts rests with lawmakers.

"If it helps to pass a bill about a comprehensive sex education curriculum, that would be just fabulous - it'd be beyond my wildest dreams."

The group Pennsylvanians for Responsible Sex Education supports two pieces of legislation. The Healthy Youth Act requires schools to offer students sex education that includes information about contraceptives and STDs. The Notice Home Act would require that parents be informed about what their kids are learning in a school's sex ed curriculum.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA