The Illinois House of Representatives passed a comprehensive sexual health education bill (HB 2675) today in a vote of 66 to 52.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-IL), Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) played a major role in moving this legislation forward, which was sponsored by Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago).
"This is a good day for young people in the state," said Khadine Bennett, legislative counsel for ACLU-IL. "Thanks to Rep. Lilly's leadership, public school students in grades six to 12 are one step closer to receiving age-appropriate sexual health education."
"The General Assembly moved closer to providing students in Illinois access to information to make responsible decisions about their sexual health," said Ramon Gardenhire, director of government relations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). "We are tremendously grateful to Rep. Lilly for the leadership she displayed on getting this bill passed through the House."
"The goal of any top quality sexual health education program should be to help young people make responsible, healthy decisions," said Carole Brite, Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO. "Today we are pleased that sixty-six members of the Illinois House voted to ensure that teens in Illinois have access to medically accurate, age appropriate, comprehensive sex education. Studies show that sex education that covers contraception and disease prevention results in teens who are more likely to delay sexual activity and use protection when sexual activity does occur. This bill is a huge step forward in advancing the health and safety of young people in Illinoiswhile they are teenagers and throughout their adult livesand we look forward to thoughtful consideration by the Illinois Senate."
"As the discussion on the House floor made clear, it was time for us to modernize the basic curricula in Illinois for teaching sexual health education," said Rep. Lilly. "If this measure becomes law, public school curricula will provide young people with tools and information necessary to grow and mature in a safe and healthy fashion. I am so proud to have been part of this effort."
Next, the bill heads to the Senate, where it will be sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago). A nearly identical measure passed the Senate in 2011 but was never called for a vote in the House.
HB 2675 creates a standard for existing sexual health education courses in grades six through 12; provides medically accurate, age-appropriate, complete information on reducing sexually transmitted diseases and infections, as well as unintended pregnancies; ensures that local school districts can choose curricula that meet their community's standards; and allows for parents to remove their children from sexual health education courses for any reason without penalty to their child.
"We urge the Senate to act as soon as possible to move this important measure forward," Bennett said.