Sims, Policy Committee look at comprehensive sex education

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 17 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Thomas Jefferson University to explore mandating science-based, inclusive and age-appropriate sex education to help reduce teen pregnancy, cases of sexual assault and better prepare Pennsylvania’s youth to be healthy adults.

“Pennsylvania students are not being fully prepared when it comes to their sexual health and well-being before graduating into adulthood. Teen births in the United States still hover at 20.3 births per 1,000 for females aged 15 to 19, people under 25 account for nearly half of new cases of sexually transmitted infections annually, and sexual violence is rampant on college campuses,” Sims said. “The abstinence-only teaching is archaic and does not address sexual, cultural or identity questions students face in their formative years. It is imperative that we implement a mandatory comprehensive and inclusive sex education curriculum that is thorough and digestible for all grade levels to educate our young people about healthy sexual behavior.” 

Sims has introduced H.B. 1586 that would require Pennsylvania school districts to integrate comprehensive sex education into the curriculum for all grade levels, teach contraception methods for older students and mandate affirmative sexual consent as part of the required sexual violence awareness educational program at higher education institutions.

“Implementing comprehensive sex education in schools, colleges and universities statewide will encourage students to live healthy lifestyles and reduce rates of sexual violence,” said state Rep. Mike Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee.

Testifiers included: Melissa Weiler Gerber, president and CEO, AccessMatters; Aletha Akers, associate professor of pediatrics, The Craig Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine; Lynette Medley, founder/CEO, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc.; Carlee Warfield, student, Downingtown STEM Academy; Miciah Foster, SistahSpeak! youth project coordinator, New Voices for Reproductive Justice; Dr. Amanda Micucio, general pediatrician, Nemours duPont Pediatrics-Philadelphia; Patricia Fonzi, president and CEO, Family Health Council of Central PA;  Michelle Schamis, artist and mother of transgender teen; Zaakirah Hamid, sexual health educator, Planned Parenthood SEPA; Alma Sheppard, 9th grade teacher, Dobbins High School; Elicia Gonzales, executive director, Women's Medical Fund; and Tillie Donover, alumnus, Philadelphia School District.

Hearing materials are available at www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.