Healthy Youth Act: A Bittersweet Victory for North Carolina's Teens

On June 30, North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue signed the Healthy Youth Act into law, mandating comprehensive sex ed in public schools for the first time in more than 13 years.

Since 1995, the law required North Carolina public schools to teach abstinence-until-marriage as part of the "healthy living curricula" in grades seven through nine. Concerned about what teens were actually being taught, in 2005-2006, the ACLU of North Carolina and North Carolina NARAL conducted a survey and discovered that at least 25 percent of districts were using curricula featuring medically inaccurate information, gender bias, and discriminatory language towards LGBTQ students.

In 2008, the ACLU-NC decided it was time to focus on statewide legislation and we became one of the founding members of the Healthy Youth NC coalition, demanding more for students and parents in North Carolina. The coalition, which also includes Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, NC NARAL, Equality NC, the Pediatric Society, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign, and many others, drafted the Healthy Youth Act in an effort to get comprehensive sexuality health education into every public school in the state.

The act took many twists and turns through the legislature. In the end, the bill that passed represents a compromise: mandating that all students receive the currently required abstinence-until-marriage curricula as well as a comprehensive curricula that teaches the effectiveness and risks of all FDA-approved forms of contraceptives. This new curricula was re-named "reproductive health and safety education." Some senators believed that this was the best way to get as many students as possible the information that they need to make healthy decisions. The coalition pushed back, explaining that having children sit through what is ostensibly an abstinence-only curricula before receiving the comprehensive information undermines young people's faith in that information. The final bill also did nothing to alleviate the gender bias and discrimination in abstinence-until-marriage curricula.

While the Healthy Youth NC coalition celebrates the amazing progress we have made in just one year, we also look forward to the work that we have left before us to get truly life-saving information in the best form possible to NC's youth. For 13 years, many of NC's young people have received inaccurate information in a context that engendered fear and used shame to discourage sexual activity instead of providing information and educating young people about healthy relationships and healthy decision-making.

Starting in the 2010 school year, that will no longer be the case, as the new law will demand that the entire "reproductive health and safety education" program be objective and based upon scientific research that is peer reviewed and accepted by professionals and credentialed experts in the field of sexual health education. Our ability to get this much change in a year makes us optimistic that through implementation of the Healthy Youth Act and possible legislative amendments in the 2011 session, we can make clear that the program must be medically accurate and that "reproductive health and safety education" should not leave LGBTQ students or families out in the cold, as abstinence-until-marriage did.

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One step at a time. Keep up the good work.


"Medically inaccurate"?! Abstinence works every time it's tried. I wonder how often abstinence will be talked about with this new ACLU-approved (how to have) sex education policy. I would guess next to nothing. If I were the parents of these kids, I would demand to see the curriculum, and if I didn't approve, (or they refused to show me) I would pull my children out of public education altogether. The pro-abortion far-left scored again...inpregnate young girls as soon and as often as possible to keep money flowing into the abortion business.


Steve, the problem is that abstinence-only education DOES NOT lead kids to actually be abstinent. It leads people to be too ashamed to use protection, leading to the pregnancies and abortions you hate so much. You believe in a false dichotomy where either an adult advocates sex or rails against it. If you really care about reducing teen pregnancies, you would go for comprehensive sex-ed, which discusses contraception as well as abstinence. Just compare the statistics of countries using comprehensive sex-ed versus us, where you'll find that the U.S. compares dismally, with much higher teen pregnancy rates.


Atempting to prevent teen pregnancy by keeping teens ignorant about sex is about as dumb as trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it.


I was just reading the newspaper and discovered that the new Czar of Science is Dr. John Holdren. Dr. Holdren and Paul Ehlrich wrote a book called "The Population Bomb" Here are a few quotes:

“Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;

“The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation’s drinking water or in food;

“Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise; People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) ‘can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility’ — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.

“A transnational “Planetary Regime” should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans’ lives — using an armed international police force.”

I would just like to comment that this Dr. Holdren has no checks and balances in his job. The President is suppose to be his boss. Besides Dr Holdren the President has 31 other Czar's. Who is to say what happens. You may not have to teach sex education anywhere. Is the ACLU watching this?


Well I guess it depends who did the study of whether abstinence is more effective than having sex with "protection". There is an well researched article from Newsmax that says certain abstinence education programs do work. If you would like to read the piece, go to . I said it once, I'll say it again...the pro-abortion lobby makes no money when teens are sexually inactive, no babies to suck in a money. That is also why the pro-abortion ACLU is fighting to keep parents from knowing what medical procedures their own kids are going through because they know the parents would try to talk them into going through with the pregnacy. No money! I wish you would all admit it!


Steve you are typical of the so called
pro lifer who claim to be against abortion who then sabatoge any real effort to make them unneccessary.If you really wanted to prevent abortions you would be fighting for day care centers and equal pay for women as well as for free medical care.
Yes kids should be encouraged to wait before having sex but keeping them in ignorance is just stupid.


Paen, my post are not meant to offend but sometimes that is unavoidable, which is unfortunate. Go into any Amish or Mennonite community where there is (as far as I know) no ACLU-approved comprehenive sex-ed class, but yet there are very few reports of out of control teen-pregnancies and/or STD's. Last time I checked, teens in these communties are no different physically than there counter-parts in the secular public school system. Now tell me, how do these youngsters manage to accomplish this without comprehensive sex-ed? Just a thought.


Excuse me, Paen, but "trying to put out fire by pouring gasoline on it"? I'm pretty sure that's a reference to the glorious idea of "comprehensive sex-ed." Abstinence-only is like water to the flame. So, yes, it would be very dumb to try to put out fire with gas. Just as dumb as it would be to let teens know that it's perfectly okay to practice sex as long as they are aware of their plan b's.

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Atempting to prevent teen pregnancy by keeping teens ignorant about sex is about as dumb as trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it


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