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Published on April 2nd, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Comprehensive Health Education Act Reform Heads to South Carolina House

COLUMBIA, S.C., April 2, 2014 – On Tuesday, the House Education and Public Works Committee passed a comprehensive sexual health education bill (H. 3435) by a vote of 10-6, sending the bill to the full South Carolina House of Representatives. The bill was introduced last January by Representative B.R. Skelton (R-Pickens) and co-sponsored by Representatives Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester), James Smith (D-Richland), Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg), Kristopher Crawford (R-Florence), and Patsy Knight (D-Dorchester).

The Comprehensive Health Education Act (CHEA) was passed in 1988 and hasn’t been updated in over 25 years. The reforms passed by the committee this week would bring current law up to date and include more provisions for increased accountability, better teacher training, and ensuring that students are being taught medically accurate information.

“Sexual health education is critical to helping young people lead healthy lives and make informed decisions that will significantly impact their futures,” said Emma Davidson, Associate Director for Strategic Mobilization of Tell Them, a program of the New Morning Foundation. “We are thankful to the House Education committee members and staff who have worked tirelessly to find common ground on this important issue.”

Advocates of the reforms believe young people need medically accurate, age-appropriate and factual information about abstinence, contraception and disease prevention, as well as certified educators with the training to teach this sensitive topic. South Carolina voters seem to agree: According to recent polling, 84% of South Carolinians support sex education that emphasizes abstinence AND teaches about contraception, while 93% of South Carolinians agree that health education teachers should be certified.[i]

“Sexual health education should be an important part of every young person’s total health education,” said Kay Chitty, EdD, RN, Former Dean of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Nursing and Board Member of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation. “We owe it to our young people to give them the information they need to evaluate our sexualized society’s messages in a broader context and to make good, responsible, educated decisions about their own reproductive health.”

Tell Them and its partners have been highly involved in advocating for these reforms. The bill moves on to the full House for its consideration.

About Tell Them

Tell Them is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition committed to creating a stronger, healthier South Carolina by preventing unintended pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.  We are a program of the New Morning Foundation, the state’s leading voice on reproductive health policies. Our 10,000 members advocate on behalf of mainstream positions that emphasize prevention, medical accuracy and science. For information, please visit tellthemsc.org.

 



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