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Story by Abigail Karlin-Resnick, executive director, Health Connected.
On Oct. 1, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Healthy Youth Act (AB 329, Weber), which made comprehensive sexual health education required in middle and high schools.
One of the partners in the effort to make this important law a reality was a local organization, Health Connected.
Health Connected is a leading provider of sexual health education in San Mateo County. Established in 1988, the organization has partnered with schools over the last 20 years to serve more than 60,000 students in the fifth through 12th grades, primarily in South San Mateo County.
In the last few years, Health Connected has taken its experience working with thousands of diverse students each year to help inform the broader adolescent sexual health field by training hundreds of education professionals and giving presentations regionally, statewide, and nationally on a range of sexual health topics.
San Mateo County schools' partnership with Health Connected has made local schools, and particularly the Sequoia Union High School District, leaders in ensuring that local students receive high-quality comprehensive sexuality education.
Now, the California Healthy Youth Act ensures that students at all California public schools will receive the same high-quality sexual health education that San Mateo County students receive.
This landmark legislation broadens the scope of sexuality education in several important ways. It updates and strengthens HIV/AIDS prevention education and sexual health education to ensure that students receive information that is medically accurate, comprehensive and inclusive of all students.
In particular, the law bolsters requirements for teaching about healthy and unhealthy relationships. With the recent spotlight on sexual assault on college campuses, this new law comes at an important time.
Health Connected worked with more than 20 organizations in California as part of a collaborative led by the ACLU of California, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Forward Together, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and Equality CA.
Health Connected provided insights on the positive impact high-quality sexual health education can have on local communities. Health Connected was able to mobilize local school partners and community members to support the legislation.
The California Healthy Youth Act represents an important step forward for adolescent health. Local organizations, including Health Connected, play a critical role in ensuring that state policy reflects local practice.
Visit health-connected.org or call (650) 367-1937 for more information on Health Connected, which is based at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City. Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit Health Connected.