CHICAGO – Earlier today, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act, which creates age-appropriate learning standards for public schools that decide to teach comprehensive personal health and safety education (grades K-5) and comprehensive sexual health education (grades 6-12).
“Years after changing Illinois law so that sexual health education is not simply abstinence-only, we are pleased that this new law will help students who have been stigmatized and or made invisible in these courses, such as LGBTQIA+ students and pregnant and parenting students, feel affirmed and seen in their classrooms,” said Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the ACLU of Illinois. “With the Governor’s signature today, students across Illinois can anticipate receiving information and education they need to support informed decision making to lead healthy lives.”
“This is good policy for all students in our state.”
Also known as Senate Bill 818, the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act applies to public school districts that choose to teach comprehensive personal health and safety education in grades K-5 and comprehensive sexual health education in grades 6-12. The new law will establish age-appropriate learning standards in alignment with national standards developed by leading public health groups, education organizations, and experts to ensure that youth in Illinois are equipped with the necessary tools and information to lead healthy and safe lives at all ages. The Illinois State Board of Education must develop and adopt the standards by August 1, 2022. Before that date, public schools that provide instruction in comprehensive personal health and safety education and comprehensive sexual health education must do so in an age-appropriate, inclusive, and comprehensive way.
The Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act also ensures that such instruction is inclusive and affirming of communities who historically have been stigmatized or excluded from such instruction, including youth living with a disability, LGBTQIA youth, pregnant or parenting youth, and survivors of interpersonal and sexual violence. Additionally, this education must not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
The Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act passed the Illinois General Assembly in May, where it was championed by State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago), State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago), and State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Addison).
The Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act is supported by a broad statewide coalition of organizations, including the ACLU of Illinois, AIDS Foundation Chicago, Equality Illinois, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, American Association of University Women (AAUW) Illinois, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, Chicago Women’s Health Center, Citizen Action/Illinois, Comprehensive Sex Ed Now, Cook County Health, EverThrive Illinois, Healing to Action, Hult Center for Healthy Living, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Illinois National Organization for Women, Illinois Public Health Association, Illinois School Counselor Association, Kenneth Young Center, Lambda Legal, Life Span, McHenry County Citizens for Choice, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, National Association of Social Workers-Illinois Chapter, National Council of Jewish Women Illinois, Peoria Proud, PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois, Prairie Pride Coalition, Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Resilience, She Votes Illinois, SIECUS, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, Uniting Pride of Champaign County, and YWCA Evanston/North Shore.