Shockingly, nearly 55 teens become pregnant in Arizona every day and 46 percent of high school students report being sexually active.
According to a University of Arizona study, Arizona has the third highest rate of teen pregnancies in the nation. This costs state taxpayers about $300 million a year.
As a community advocate for today’s youth, I strongly support comprehensive, abstinence-based sexuality education for students in Arizona’s public schools. I have stood up for Arizona’s youth by sponsoring a sexuality education bill in the Arizona House (HB2506) earlier this year. This bill would require Arizona school districts to provide abstinence-based sex education that is medically accurate and comprehensive for middle and high school students. It is a necessary action to help reduce our teen pregnancy rates.
Unfortunately, the bill did not receive an important committee hearing and was not able to move forward. Lawmakers have a responsibility to every student in Arizona’s public school system. By adopting a statewide law, we can ensure that all youth and parents, no matter where they live, will receive consistent, accurate and age-appropriate information. This effort will face an uphill battle. With that in mind, some school boards are taking action now.
For example, the Creighton Elementary School District in Phoenix proactively adopted the Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) program.
This effort deserves recognition, as it will serve the students and the community well. I strongly urge other school boards to step up and take action. This will help send a message that we value our students, we value their health and we value their futures.
— Catherine Miranda is a Democratic state representative from District 27 in Phoenix.