Please contact your state legislators and ask them to support this bill. (Find your legislator’s contact information here.) Please leave a comment here on this post or email us if you get an answer from your legislator, we are keeping track of responses, it helps us identify who needs more contact.
The bill stipulates that public schools teach sexual education in a medically-accurate, LGBTQ-inclusive way.
Full text of bill below (also available by PDF here.)
Planned Parenthood Advocacy has a quick-read background and description about why we need this bill, including this clip:
An Act Relative to Healthy Youth ensures that a Massachusetts school electing to teach sex education uses a curriculum that’s medically accurate, age-appropriate, and truly comprehensive. A comprehensive sex education curriculum teaches students about the benefits of abstinence and delaying sex, building healthy relationships, consent, gender identity and sexual orientation, effective contraceptive use, and the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). read more here
Please take action! It’s easy. And when you contact your Senator and Rep, remember they work for you, and you can always support his/her opponent.
Full Text of Bill:
SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out section 32A and inserting in place thereof the following sections:-
Section 32A. Every city, town, regional school district, vocational school district or charter school implementing or maintaining a curriculum that primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues shall adopt a written policy ensuring parental or legal guardian notification of the comprehensive sexual health education provided by the school, the right of the parent or legal guardian to withdraw a student from all or part of the instruction, and the notification process to the school for withdrawal. The policy shall also include a process for parents and legal guardians to inspect the program instruction materials prior to the start of the course, if the parent or legal guardian requests to review the materials.
Such notification must be provided in all languages that meet the federal definition for Limited English Proficiency. The policy shall be distributed annually by September 1 to parents or guardians of a student in a grade that includes a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum during the upcoming academic year. The policy shall also be distributed in the same manner as any student handbook that is distributed to students. If student handbooks are not distributed in a certain grade, the policy shall be distributed in the same manner as other notices provided to parents and guardians at the start of the school year. Upon adoption or amendment, a copy of each district’s policy shall be sent to the department of elementary and secondary education after adoption.
If a parent or guardian withdraws a student from all or part of sexual health instruction, the student shall not be subject to disciplinary action, academic penalty or any other sanction. An alternative educational activity shall be made available to students who have been withdrawn from instruction.
Section 32B. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“Age-appropriate”, topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children and adolescents, based on cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral capacity typical for that age or age group.
“Consent”, affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in interpersonal, physical, or sexual activity.
“Department”, the department of elementary and secondary education.
“Gender Identity”, a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.
“Medically accurate”, verified or supported by the weight of research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and published in peer-reviewed journals, where applicable, or otherwise recognized as accurate and objective by leading professional public health or medical, psychological, and psychiatric organizations, government agencies and scientific advisory groups with relevant expertise in the field.
“Sexual Orientation”, homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality; for purposes of curriculum and instruction, “sexual orientation” includes an individual’s attraction, including physical or emotional, to the same and/or different genders.
(b) Each city, town, regional school district, vocational school district, or charter school that offers sexual health education shall provide medically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual health education. Sexual health education shall be appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and shall include, but not be limited to, teaching the following topics:
(i) The physical, social, and emotional changes of human development;
(ii) Human anatomy, reproduction, and sexual development;
(iii) The benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity, in conjunction with the effective use of contraceptives and barrier methods, such as condoms, medication, and birth control, to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and the options for pregnancy, including parenting, adoption, and abortion;
(iv) Ways to effectively discuss safe sexual activity;
(v) Healthy relationships, including friendships and relationships within families, and communication skills to form healthy, respectful relationships free of violence, coercion, and intimidation and to make healthy decisions about relationships and sexuality; this includes:
(1) Developing effective communication, negotiation, and refusal skills, including the skills to recognize and report inappropriate or abusive sexual advances;
(2) Understanding bodily autonomy, setting and respecting personal boundaries, practicing personal safety, and consent;
(3) Critical thinking, problem solving, self-sufficiency, and decision making;
(4) Discussion of healthy relationships, including affirmative representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, relationships, and families; and
(5) Encouraging youth to communicate with their parents or guardians, as well as faith, health, and social service professionals, and other trusted adults about sexuality and intimate relationships; and
(vi) Age-appropriate information about gender identity and sexual orientation for all students, including:
(1) Affirmative recognition that people have different sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions;
(2) Information about community resources that can provide additional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.
(c) Any city, town, regional school district, vocational school district or charter school that utilizes curricula consistent with the Massachusetts curriculum framework for comprehensive health shall be in compliance with this section.
(d) The department shall promulgate rules to implement, administer, and ensure compliance with the provisions of this section.
(e) The department shall determine minimum education and training qualifications for sex education instructors.
(f) Pursuant to its authority under section 1E of chapter 69 of the general laws, the board of elementary and secondary education shall direct the commissioner to update the health curriculum framework, including provisions relative to sexual health education consistent with this section, upon the effective date of this act and no less than once every 10 years thereafter.
32C. (a) The department may promulgate regulations setting forth a complaint procedure to enforce this Act, subject to subsection (b). A final determination of a complaint by the department shall be appealable to the Massachusetts Superior Court.
(b) Any parent or guardian with a child enrolled in a city, town, regional school district, vocational school district, or charter school, or any student having legal capacity enrolled in such a school or school district, who believes the school district is not complying with the requirements of Section 32B may enforce the provisions of Section 32B of this chapter in superior court.
SECTION 2. Section 1I of Chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the last paragraph the following:- Beginning the first academic year following the effective date of this act, each city, town, regional school district, vocational school district, or charter school shall file an annual report with the department regarding sexual health education in the district by a date and in a format to be determined by the board. Said report shall include, but not be limited to, the following data for each city, town, regional school district, vocational school district, or charter school, by grade level: (1) a description of any sexual health education curricula offered; (2) the approximate number of hours spent on sexual health education; (3) the number of students receiving sexual health education; and (4) the number of students who withdrew from sexual health education, pursuant to section 32A.
SECTION 3. Section 1 of chapter 71 of the general laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “resuscitation”, in line 23, the following words:- ; provided, however, that for any school located in a city or town with an adolescent or young adult sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence rate higher than the state average, and any regional school district where one of the constituent cities or towns has an adolescent or young adult STI incidence rate higher than the state average, instruction in health education shall additionally include comprehensive sexual health education consistent with the requirements laid out in section 32B of chapter 71 of the general laws. The department of elementary and secondary education shall determine for each academic year which school districts and individual schools shall be subject to such additional sexual health education instruction requirements based on the STD, HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report published annually by the department of public health.
SECTION 4. Sections 1 and 2 of this act shall take effect for the academic year immediately following its passage.
SECTION 5. Section 3 of this act shall take effect July 1, 2020.
(If you see errors or omissions please contact CapeCodWomenforChange@gmail.com)
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