On June 28th The Human Rights Campaign endorsed the key findings in
Surgeon General David Satcher’s comprehensive report on sex education and
urged our nation’s leaders to let science guide our public policy. The Bush
administration should promptly adopt many of the report’s sound guidelines
and make them a standard part of national discussions on public health, says
“Two years of scientific research has resulted in a highly
scientific report by the nation’s top doctor that will save lives,” said HRC
Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. “We urge the administration to
immediately adopt the more science-based guidelines and let them serve as a
policy roadmap for improving public health in America.”
The report, “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual
Health and Responsible Behavior,” calls on America to respect “the diversity
of sexual values within any community” and recommends a “mature and
thoughtful discussion about sexuality.” It advises that sex education begin
early, be wide-ranging and available throughout one’s life.
The report says there is no evidence that “abstinence-only” programs
are effective and that curriculum should explain how to prevent unwanted
pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Improving access to
reproductive health care services for “all persons in the community” is
recommended. Additionally, the report discusses the consequences of
harassment on the mental health of gays and lesbians and says there is no
scientific evidence that one’s sexual orientation can be changed.
“In their extreme form, anti-homosexual attitudes lead to anti-gay
violence,” the report says. “Averaged over two dozen studies, 80 percent of
gay men and lesbians had experienced verbal or physical harassment on the
basis of sexual orientation, 45 percent had been threatened by violence and
17 percent had experienced physical attack.”
Improved medicine has allowed people with HIV to live longer and healthier
lives. But 40,000 new infections are reported each year – and half of them
occur in people under age 25. About 750,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been
reported in America since the discovery of the disease and nearly 450,000
people have died from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.
“These are welcome recommendations because if we do not begin to talk openly
and honestly, a new generation will be at risk,” said Stachelberg. “Too many
young people think recent advances in HIV fighting drugs mean the epidemic
is over. This report will help teach these young Americans the dangers of
diseases such as HIV and ways to prevent contracting them.”
Satcher’s report also includes a wide-array of recommendations to
improve public health including:
- Providing adequate training in sexual health for health care
- Ensuring the availability of programs that aim to prevent sexual
- Stressing the value and benefits of remaining abstinent until
involved in a committed, enduring and mutually monogamous relationship.
- Developing and disseminating – for use by parents, clergy and
teachers – educational materials for sex-ed classes that cover the “full
continuum of human sexual development”.
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