State representative, Newton Democrat
I am a cosponsor of An Act Relative to Healthy Youth because I think it’s critical that we provide comprehensive and accurate sexual education in our schools. This legislation would improve sexual education curriculum in our public schools and public health outcomes in the Commonwealth overall.
Comprehensive sexual education has been proven to delay the initiation of sex, and to reduce the frequency of sex, the number of partners, and the incidences of unprotected sex. It’s vital that we provide young people with the tools to make good decisions. I know this can be a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable topic to discuss, but we must have the courage to look at the issue clearly and empower our children with the accurate information they need to decide what is right for them.
Over the past several legislative sessions, I have heard from many different voices supporting this bill. It has such a widespread base of support because so many see the long-term value in providing medically accurate, age-appropriate and comprehensive sexual education. I was particularly impressed to receive a petition in support of the bill signed by over 50 students from Newton North High School in my district. This drove the matter home for me – young people know the importance of this information, and want access to it.
This legislation allows schools to pick the specific courses they want to teach, so long as the curriculum meets state standards. The curriculum would educate students about delaying sexual activity, healthy relationships, and healthy behaviors free of coercion, effective contraception use, and sexually transmitted infections. The decision to offer sexual education would be left to local school boards. Parents would be able to choose whether their children participate in school-based sexual education, and schools that provide the health education would include material on abstinence in addition to contraception.
Ultimately, I believe this bill will empower our youth to make informed, healthy decisions not only about their sexual activity, but about how to maintain physically and emotionally healthy relationships. If students want this information and we refuse to provide it to them, then we are responsible for the negative outcomes that may occur.
Wayland resident, former president of the Wayland Chinese-American Association
It takes a village to raise a child, not a bureaucracy. As a first-generation immigrant from China and a mother of three, I have found there are many challenges to our values in the current culture. However, I recently teamed up with other parents to address one of those challenges in my children’s school, and it taught me to never underestimate the power and influence of a handful of concerned moms.
Last March, my daughter came home and told me she had watched a strange movie in her ninth-grade wellness class which made her uncomfortable and upset. It turns out this 2016 movie, “Love Is All You Need,” depicts an alternative reality where homosexual relationships are the norm and heterosexual acts are taboo. In it, a heterosexual girl is bullied by her classmates. When she realizes she has feelings for a boy, she is harassed for being a “breeder” and commits suicide by cutting her wrists in her bathtub.
I called another mom and she told me her daughter was upset too. One student left the classroom in tears because the suicide scene was so graphic. None of us received any notice from the school before this destructive movie was shown to our children. Three other concerned moms and I met with the superintendent, the principal, and the wellness director and expressed our objections to the video. In response, the school promised to stop showing it.
This is why I am disappointed that the Massachusetts Legislature is considering a bill that threatens the rights of parents and local administrators to determine what is taught to our children on these sensitive topics and instead gives that authority to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Parents in my community know what is best for our children, and we are appalled at state bureaucrats attempting to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to sex ed. Solving these problems starts with good communication between children and parents, and then parents and the school. We are the “village” that will raise and educate our young people, and the authority to decide what is taught, and when, should stay with us.
(This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.)As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.