The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and local elected officials advocated for the Healthy Youth Act, a bill that would expand access to comprehensive sexual education in Massachusetts, during a community event on March 14 at the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
Jamaica Plain City Councilor Matt O’Malley, local Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, and At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spoke at the March 14 meeting in support for the legislation, in addition to other local activists and youth leaders.
The Healthy Youth Act bill (S. 2062, H. 3754) is co-sponsored by state Sen. Sal DiDomenico and state Reps. Jim O’Day and Paul Brodeur. It passed the state Senate in November of 2015 by a vote of 32-6. It is now in the hands of the state House of Representatives to pass the bill.
The bill outlines the approach that schools would have to take when teaching sexual education. The information taught would need to be comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate. The bill would also require sexual education in those schools to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.
“It is unconscionable that we still have to fight for this legislation,” said Chang-Díaz. “We cannot take progress for granted in Massachusetts, and we have to really fight for these things. It reminds me of one of the great lines that was in one of the State of the Union addresses of Obama past about truths being self evident, but not self-executing. And these are things that we have to fight for and we have to be agents for over time.”
Matt O’Malley also voiced support for the legislation, and spoke highly of Planned Parenthood.
“I proudly stand with Planned Parenthood,” said O’Malley. “It is so important, particularly in this climate, especially with what we’ve been seeing nationally, that people realize what Planned Parenthood does. In addition to reproductive rights, which is very important, and healthcare for men and women, which is also very important, they talk about education and access and making sure that every kid has access to sexual health and education.”
Ayanna Pressley spoke about how comprehensive sexual education would improve the health and overall wellbeing of many students, therefore allowing them to perform better in the rest of their studies. She prompted a call and response chant about sexual education within the crowd of about 35 people, which was “kids needs it, parents want it, and science says it works.”
For more information about the Healthy Care Act, visit malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S2062.