Wisconsin Redux: An End to the Healthy Youth Act?
By Shannon Ingram, SIECUS Program Research Intern
Republicans in Wisconsin, having taken control of the legislature in the 2010 elections, are working hard to repeal the state’s Healthy Youth Act. The Healthy Youth Act, originally passed in 2009, requires that when public schools teach about sexuality, they must include medically-accurate information about contraception in addition to information about abstinence. State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) argues that local school districts should have the flexibility to design their own sex education curricula, and has introduced a bill to change state policy. Yet her own proposal would mandate that all districts teach about the benefits of marriage.1
Students across Wisconsin have expressed support for the Healthy Youth Act. Ani Djaferian, a senior at Wausau East High School in Milwaukee, was among those praising the more comprehensive approach now required by law. "Without our schools educating, my peers will turn to Google searches and gossip for answers regarding very serious matters," she said.2
The debate has not been resolved and it is not clear whether Senator’s Lazich’s measure will pass the state Assembly.
1 Kelly Schlicht, “Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Bill Stirs Up Controversy,” WEAU, 20 October 2011, accessed 28 October 2011, <http://www.weau.com/news/headlines/Abstinence-only_sex_ed_bill_stirs_up_controversy_132273988.html>.
2 Patrick Marley, “Bill Would Allow the Return of Abstinence-Only Sex Education in Schools,” Journal Sentinel Online 19 October 2011, accessed 31 October 2011, <http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/bill-would-allow-the-return-of-abstinenceonly-sex-education-in-schools-132153708.html>.