The data is clear: comprehensive sex ed is the only real way to help our youth stay safe and address the growing health crises among Massachusetts youth. Below, you can explore the research-backed case for why we need the Healthy Youth Act. From shedding light on the dismal status quo of sex ed in Massachusetts schools to explaining why sex ed is an intersectional issue, read on to learn more.
Without clear regulations, most MA schools aren’t covering the basics in sex ed
- In 2015, just 52% of MA teens reported that they learned how to use a condom (source)
- Only half (51.3%) of MA schools self-report that they offer a required course that covers the 11 basic topics recommended by the CDC (source)
- By the time Massachusetts high school students graduate, 60% of them will have had sex (source)
COMPREHENSIVE SEX ED
Research clearly indicates that comprehensive sex education is the only data-backed way to help teens stay safe and healthy.
- Multiple massive meta-analyses of thousands of studies on school health courses have all concluded that comprehensive sex education improved every measured outcome: from preventing unwanted pregnancy to lowering STI rates to improving media literacy to teaching children recognize and report sexual abuse. (source 1, source 2)
- Further, comprehensive sex ed courses were the single best way to convince teens to delay having sex or choose not to have sex - indeed, they were far more effective than abstinence-only classes, which of multiple sets researchers found largely ineffective. (source 1, source 2)
- 92 percent of registered Massachusetts voters said they believe students should receive sex education in high school and 89 percent agreed that sex education should include information about how students can stay healthy should they choose to become sexually active (source)
- The Healthy Youth Act Coalition itself is a large, diverse coalition that includes communities ranging from medical professionals to educators to researchers to advocates to LGBTQ activists.
SEXUAL HEALTH CRISIS
Over the last decade, levels of STIs among our state’s youth have been climbing
- Chlamydia has risen by over 60%, syphilis has tripled, and gonorrhea has quadrupled (source)
- Only 13% of high school students have been tested for STDs this year, but 50% of infections are in young people (source)
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAUL
Without any education about consent, MA students are at risk for sexual violence. (source for all)
- 10% of MA high school students have experienced sexual assault
- 7% of MA high school students have experienced physical dating violence
- These numbers are even higher for those who exist at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities: for instance, Hispanic high schoolers in Massachusetts are nearly 1.5x more likely to experience physical dating violence.
- Misinformation about sex and sexual health can often be used as a tool to aid abuse and violence
81% of LGBTQ youth in MA learn nothing about LGBTQ topics in sex ed, an experience that leaving them without tools they need to stay healthy while also isolating and stigmatizing them. (source for all)
- They are disproportionately likely to experience negative outcomes like STIs, sexual violence, and physical dating violence
- Over 50% of them reported being bullied for their orientation or gender identity
© 2021 Healthy Youth Act Coalition