HARRISBURG- The Pennsylvania House Education Committee passed legislation today that will greatly improve the health curriculum of Pennsylvania public schools, said a statewide coalition of medical, educational, and youth-serving organizations. House Bill 1163, also known as the Healthy Youth Act, creates a minimum standard for sex education curriculum in Pennsylvania public schools and will aid Pennsylvania youth in making healthy, informed decisions and help decrease unintended pregnancies, STDs and HIV infections, all of which are on the rise in the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvanians for Responsible Sex Education (PARSE) commended the committee for taking action that will protect the lives of Pennsylvania youth. PARSE includes 20 medical, educational, and youth-serving organizations with thousands of members across Pennsylvania.
“With this legislation, Pennsylvania is well poised to take advantage of new funding opportunities from the federal government and at the same time vastly improve the health education and outcomes of Pennsylvania youth,” said Carol Petraitis, co-chair of PARSE. “With one in four teenage girls infected with a sexually transmitted infection, we commend the committee for recognizing this tragic public health crisis and taking significant steps towards correcting it.”
Pennsylvania has been one of the leading recipients of federal dollars for abstinence-only-until-marriage from the federal government. In 2007, Pennsylvania organizations got over $7 million in federal funds for programs that have been shown by government researchers to be ineffective at best and harmful at worst. Federal funds have been drastically reduced in the upcoming budget with increases in comprehensive approaches to sex education.
Representative Chelsa Wagner of Allegheny County introduced HB 1163 last spring along with a companion bill, HB 1162, introduced by Representative Eddie Day Pashinski. Those bills were combined into one bill, HB 1163, which now heads to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.