Safety First: Illinois Legislature Bans Abstinence-Only Sex Education

safe sex

In a 37 to 21 vote last Wednesday, the Illinois State Senate concurred with the state house and decided to ban abstinence-only education in the Prairie State. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats such as State Sen. Linda Holmes (D) quoted as saying:

“In fantasy land, we teach our kids abstinence – and they listen. But we know they don’t necessarily follow that advice. They are going to be confronted with the issue of sex before they’re 21 years old, or 25, or whenever they decide to get married.”

Current Illinois school code requires that abstinence be stressed above all else, but public schools may choose to teach abstinence-only education, a dual plan of stressing abstinence while providing comprehensive information about contraceptives, or they may choose not to provide any sex-ed instruction. HB2675 changes this.

Think Progress reports:

“Under HB 2675, schools won’t be able to choose the abstinence-only option anymore — they’ll need to either offer comprehensive information about prevention methods, or decide not to offer any sex ed courses whatsoever.”

This bill by Illinois follows what many medical organizations in the United States advocate for. Wikipedia lists these organizations as opponents of abstinence-only education:

  • The American Psychological Association
  • The American Medical Association
  • The National Association of School Psychologists
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The American Public Health Association
  • The Society for Adolescent Medicine
  • The American College Health Association

The bill was sponsored in the house by Representative Camille Y. Lilly (D) with 20 co-sponsors and is expected to be signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) when it arrives in his office. The bill follows a similar choice by the U.S. Congress in 2010 which eliminated $114.5 billion from federal abstinence-only education and redirected the funds to “effective, evidence-based, teen pregnancy prevention programs and promising prevention models.”

This move by Illinois represents a huge step in the right direction when it comes to the health of America’s adolescents and young adults. As science has repeatedly demonstrated, abstinence-only “sexual education” is responsible for higher rates of STDs, STIs and pregnancy among teens. It doesn’t work. As the above quote says, that type of thinking is only true in fantasy land.

This post was written by Jacob Daruvala of Young Progressive Voices and Addicting Info’s Justin Acuff. You can join or support the next generation of progressive thought by clicking “like” in the box below. If the box does not appear, you can follow the YPV link above.