Nurses are an essential component and driving force in improving health care and people’s health. They work closely with patients and see their needs, which gives them a unique experience and the ability to propose the most appropriate incentives. For this reason, this paper will consider one of the recent federal bills that are important for health care and require the support and professional knowledge of nurses.
|Health-related Bill Name|| |
Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act of 2021
|Description||This bill was presented in the House in May 2021, although it was also introduced before that by the 116 Congress. The bill aims to develop and finance educational programs on sexual behavior and health in schools and universities, as well as social institutions for young people. A feature of this project is that it insists on the inclusion of information that was previously often ignored in educational programs. For example, sexual relationships of LGBTQ + people, sexual abuse, or unwanted pregnancy. According to the bill, the federal government will allocate $ 100,000,000 annually to fund educational programs aimed at sexuality education for adolescents and young people. These funds will be used to change or design curricula, educate teachers and provide resources for marginalized populations. In addition, the bill prohibits funding for programs that hide information important to HIV prevention, minority insensitive, or medically inaccurate.|
|Federal or State?||A federal bill|
|Legislative Intent||The primary intents are: |
|Proponents/ Opponents||Proponents: Supporters of the bill include medical associations and professionals who understand the importance of sexuality education, a large proportion of LGBTQ + and minority people, and most parents regardless of their Democratic or Republican affiliation (“Real Education,” 2021). |
Among the members of Congress, the bill has 63 co-sponsors, and Barbara Lee, the Republican party, introduced it.
|Opponents: The main opponents of the project are people who believe that children’s access to information about sexual health pushes them to have sex before marriage. Groups of these people declare the need to use only the policy of “abstinence-only” until marriage and undermine the possibilities of sexuality education for children (“Campaigns,” n.d.; Taylor et al., 2017).|
|Target Population||Adolescence and young adults.|
|Status of the bill (Is it in hearings or committees?)||The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives.|
|General Notes/Comments||The bill does not address health changes directly but is central to improving sexuality education and public health. Disease prevention is one of the main tasks of health care. However, since nurses have limited access to the population, they must collaborate with other social agencies to disseminate health-related information. Research shows that schools are ideal places to educate adolescents about healthy sexual behavior. For example, Ramírez-Villalobos et al. (2021) found that educational programs increased students’ knowledge of contraceptive methods and their use and also delayed the initiation of sexual activity. For this reason, nurses need to show participation and support for an action that will reduce STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and risky sexual behavior among young people.|
Sexuality education for young people is one of the key aspects for preventing sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and maintaining the population’s reproductive health. Despite the conviction of some adults that abstinence is the only correct solution to avoid sexual health problems, this approach is ineffective as more than half of adolescents aged 15-19 have sexual intercourse (“Campaigns,” n.d). Consequently, young people must have sufficient information about safe sexual behavior and have access to educational and medical resources to avoid adverse health consequences.
For this reason, the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act of 2021 should be considered and passed by Congress as soon as possible. This act aims to improve existing sexuality education curricula and prohibit abstinence-only policies that inadequately report on the prevention of STDs, HIV, and sexual violence. The act will also provide schools, colleges, and centers with the resources they need to educate teachers and change or implement school curricula (“Text – H.R.3312”, 2021). Thus, the adoption of the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act of 2021 will qualitatively change the approach to sexuality education for young people and can improve the health of the population.
The main approach to meet the objections of opponents is to provide facts and statistics. Despite federal support for abstinence programs, there are about 800,000 unplanned pregnancies among adolescent girls every year, and STDs and HIV are on the rise (“Campaigns,” n.d). At the same time, most medical associations and professionals, such as The American Academy of Nursing, argue that obstructing comprehensive sexuality education for children based on medical evidence makes the situation worse (Taylor et al., 2017). For this reason, the only way to convince opponents is to provide factual evidence and real examples that will convince them that sexuality education is not a method of provoking adolescents into sexual relations but an effort to protect their health.
Thus, this review demonstrates that nurses can be actively involved and contribute by stating their position and offering evidence for comprehensive sexuality education for young people. These actions contribute to the adoption of a bill aimed at developing sexuality education programs in schools and colleges. Consequently, the adoption of this bill will have a positive impact on health care, since education is one of the basic elements for preventing diseases and reducing their prevalence.
Ramírez-Villalobos, D., Monterubio-Flores, E. A., Gonzalez-Vazquez, T. T., Molina-Rodríguez, J. F., Ruelas-González, M. G., & Alcalde-Rabanal, J. E. (2021). Delaying sexual onset: Outcome of a comprehensive sexuality education initiative for adolescents in public schools. BMC Public Health, 21(1). Web.
Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. (2021). Web.
Taylor, D., Olshansky, E. F., Woods, N. F., Johnson-Mallard, V., Safriet, B. J., & Hagan, T. (2017). Corrigendum to position statement: Political interference in sexual and reproductive health research and health professional Education. Nursing Outlook, 65(3), 346–350. Web.
Text – H.R.3312 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act of 2021. (2021). Web.