May 22, 2023

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Introduces Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-12), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Alma Adams (NC-12) joined Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to reintroduce the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA), which addresses both education and access to care for young people, with a focus on those most impacted by barriers to sex education and sexual health services.

REAHYA would offer the first federal grants for comprehensive sex education programs in the United States and end investments in harmful Title V abstinence-only programs. These grants would fund programs at high schools, colleges, and organizations to support the sexual health and agency of students and young people. This legislation would also require program grantees to promote gender equity and offer instruction that is inclusive of young people with varying gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

“Young people deserve the tools and knowledge to make decisions about their bodies and lives,” said Congresswoman Lee. “A comprehensive, culturally responsive and inclusive sex education should be a part of every curriculum in the United States. Our Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act takes steps to support sex education programs, promote equity, and discourage harmful abstinence-only teachings. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and help advance positive, age-appropriate lessons around sexual education.” 

“With reproductive rights under attack across the country, it’s even more important young people receive comprehensive sex education and access to community-based health services that empower them to make healthy, informed decisions,” said Congresswoman Adams. “That is why I’m proud to join Congresswoman Barbara Lee and my colleagues in introducing our Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA), to ensure young people have access to developmentally and culturally appropriate sex education that is evidence-informed, medically accurate and youth-friendly. This curriculum makes sure we meet their unique needs and lived experiences. Our legislation provides necessary funding and an inclusive roadmap for combatting sexual health disparities across the country and equipping young people with the information, skills, and services they need to make smart and healthy decisions throughout their lifetime.”  

"Sexual and reproductive health is an issue of social justice," said Congresswoman Jayapal. "Prioritizing sexual education puts us on a path to a future in which young people have the resources and care they need to make healthy decisions for themselves while we decrease the rate of sexually transmitted infections.”

“Currently, too many young people across our country are deprived of access to comprehensive, evidence-based sex education and sexual health services,” said Senator Hirono. “Comprehensive sex education helps young people make safer, healthier decisions. The Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act will enable young people to make informed decisions and reduce health disparities experienced by underserved communities.”

“Every young person in our country deserves access to comprehensive and inclusive sex education and sexual health services,” said Senator Booker. “It is unacceptable that so many states still lack evidence-based sex education. We must address these disparities and ensure that all young people, especially those from underserved communities, receive the comprehensive education and support they need. That is why I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Hirono that would serve as a critical step towards ensuring comprehensive sex education programs across our country. By promoting more comprehensive approaches to sex education, we can empower students to make informed decisions about their sexual health and break down barriers to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, she is the highest ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership.