26 March 2007

Asking Senators to Co-sponsor the REAL Act

Today, youth and young adult members of Unitarian Universalist churches, United Church of Christ churches, and other religious liberal groups were lobbying congress today in support of the REAL Act (Responsible Education about Life Act -- S. 368). The UUA and UCC were also sponsoring a REAL Act call-in day for lobbying our Senators for folks around the country to participate in this lobbying by phone.

The REAL Act would give states and communities the option to freely choose between abstinence-only sexuality education and comprehensive sexuality education by providing funding for both options.

After calling my Senators, I visited the Advocates for Youth web site. Here's my modified version of the sample letter provided on the Advocates for Youth web site that I sent to my Senators:
I am writing to ask you to cosponsor the REAL Act (Responsible Education about Life Act -- S. 368).

This legislation, introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would provide federal support for comprehensive sex education programs.

The United States has the highest rate of unintended teen pregnancies among all industrialized nations and American teens acquire an estimated 9.1 million sexually transmitted diseases a year. An average of two young people in the U.S. are infected with HIV every hour of every day.

Clearly, young people's health and lives are at risk, yet the federal government has spent over $1.4 billion over the past 10 years on abstinence-only programs that censor information about the health benefits of contraceptives and condoms.

Research indicates that teenagers who receive information about both abstinence and contraception are more likely to delay sexual activity and to have fewer partners and use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active.

The most trusted medical and scientific institutions in our nation, such as the American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association, all recommend comprehensive sex education as well.

For the past 10 years, the federal government has invested money into abstinence-only programs, which do not give teens the resources they need.

It's time for a change.

The REAL Act authorizes much-needed funding for programs that give teens the information and skills they need to make responsible decisions.

As a religious person who is active in my church and a parent of two teens, I'm outraged with our government's immoral and ineffective abstinence-only funding policies that fail to protect the health of young people. The abstinence-only programs are based in flawed ideology -- not reality -- and do harm our young people.

I urge you to become a cosponsor of the REAL Act.

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