Doug Hardy photo
Hartford student Marnise Tucker, of the Sports and Medical Sciences Academy, speaks Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building. (Doug Hardy photo)

Connecticut does not require schools to teach sex education, which means many students here don’t have access to age-appropriate, medically accurate information about their sexual health before they become sexually active.

This is a serious problem, according to the
Healthy Teens Connecticut
coalition, because statistics show that 45 percent of young people become sexually active by the end of their freshman year in high school.

Without sex education, the group says, there is a disconnect: Parents may think their kids are getting the information at school, and the schools may think students are getting information from their parents, but in the end a lot of bad information about sex is passed along by peers, says Shawn Lang of the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition.

That is why Lang’s group, along with Planned Parenthood, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Hartford Action Plan, NARAL, and others have formed Healthy Teens Connecticut in an effort to get the legislature to establish the fund for comprehensive sex education.

The legislation would not require school districts to teach sex education. Rather, Planned Parenthood’s Susan Yolen said communities could voluntarily apply for sex education grants from the $1 million fund, which would be controlled by the state Education Department.

“What we know is that parents assume their children are receiving age-appropriate, science-based information about relationships, life decisions, and sexuality; but that’s not true in all school systems,” Yolen said.

A few dozen youth attended the news conference as well, including Marnise Tucker, of Hartford’s Sports and Medical Sciences Academy.

“We want to have a decision in the choices that we make based on facts not because we thought it was harmless at the time,” Tucker said. She said she doesn’t want to participate in activities she doesn’t know about, but she knows many students do so. She said that when students lack facts, they end up with unwanted pregnancies, diseases, and other problems. 

Ryan Grant was a teen who lacked the facts, and he was there Wednesday to tell his story and support the bill.

“Sometimes you end up being an adult like me, HIV positive at the age 40, who was refused the education, refused the talks,” Grant, who is now a case worker at Prospect House in Bridgeport, said. He said the bill and its funding are crucial because “we need to save our children so we can save our futures.”

Click here to read a copy of the bill.