Support for California SB 1471: Sex Education in Schools
September 19, 2006
Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, State of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-1009, 445-4633
RE: PLEASE SIGN SB 1471
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
The Board of Beyond AIDS urges a signature on Senate Bill 1471 (Kuehl). We believe that it provides the best balance and most sensible approach to educating school children about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. These conditions cause a high rate of morbidity, mortality, and interrupted education in our society, partly due to ignorance and lack of preparation among young people.
Under this bill, the optimal safety of abstinence will be emphasized, but students will be provided with medically accurate information about condoms and other FDA-approved measures that will help to protect them if they are already or become sexually active. Studies have shown that abstinence education can be very helpful, but that abstinence-only programs that fail to give alternatives are not adequately effective. Emergency contraception will also be included, which will prevent unintended pregnancies as well as abortions.
SB 1471 also assures that school education on these topics will not be hostage to any particular religious dogma. That is increasingly important with pressure from various religious groups for their own particular teachings to be endorsed by the schools. Under this bill, teaching will be scientific, but will still stress the safety of abstinence, which is approved by most of the major religions.
The bill is carefully crafted to deal with both the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases on the one hand, and pregnancy on the other hand. This comprehensive approach will give our young people a good preparation for sexual health and will permit state-funded education on these topics to save countless lives. We think that this sensible and balanced bill deserves your full support.
Ronald P. Hattis, MD, MPH
Secretary, Beyond AIDS