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Hirono, Booker Reintroduce Legislation to Strengthen Access to Sexual Health Resources and Education for Young People

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA) to help strengthen access to sex education and sexual health services for young adults, particularly those most impacted by barriers to sex education and access to care. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

“Currently, too many young people across our country are deprived of access to comprehensive, evidence-based sex education and sexual health services,” said Senator Hirono. “Comprehensive sex education helps young people make safer, healthier decisions. The Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act will enable young people to make informed decisions and reduce health disparities experienced by underserved communities.”

“Every young person in our country deserves access to comprehensive and inclusive sex education and sexual health services,” said Senator Booker. “It is unacceptable that so many states still lack evidence-based sex education. We must address these disparities and ensure that all young people, especially those from underserved communities, receive the comprehensive education and support they need. That is why I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Hirono that would serve as a critical step towards ensuring comprehensive sex education programs across our country. By promoting more comprehensive approaches to sex education, we can empower students to make informed decisions about their sexual health and break down barriers to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

Currently, only 38 states and the District of Columbia require sex education or Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) education, and when sex education is taught, 13 states do not require the content to be evidence-informed, medically accurate and complete, age and developmentally appropriate, or culturally responsive. Additionally, many sex education programs and sexual health services are inaccessible or do not meet the needs of young people who are LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, or from other marginalized communities. 

REAHYA would offer the first federal grants for comprehensive sex education programs in the United States and end investments in harmful Title V abstinence-only programs. These grants would fund programs at high schools, colleges, and organizations to support the sexual health and agency of students and young people. This legislation would also require program grantees to promote gender equity and offer instruction that is inclusive of young people with varying gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Booker, the bill has been co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

This bill has been endorsed by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS); Planned Parenthood; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Equality California; and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The full text of the bill is available here.