Joint statement on the Importance of School-based Equity Initiatives

This fall, students, families, and educators across the country are headed back to school following a brief summer reprieve from an incredibly challenging year. 

Our students and valued educators should be returning to a nurturing and respectful learning environment. Instead, many are being met with a deceptive campaign against the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools, orchestrated by a small yet vocal minority threatened by the increasing diversity of our society.

These extreme conservatives are distorting and weaponizing an academic framework called Critical Race Theory in an effort to thwart the teaching of inclusive sex education and accurate American history as well as and other school-based equity initiatives.

As the co-founders of the Future of Sex Education (FoSE) and leaders of three national organizations providing sex education for young people —Advocates for Youth, Answer, and   SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change—we affirm our support for school-based equity initiatives that critically examine the impact of institutional and systemic racism and create more culturally responsive and inclusive school environments that ensure all youth thrive.

Equity and inclusion are essential values that make education more effective.  They are also the values that underpin quality sex educationIn fact, research demonstrates that quality sex education that is culturally responsive and inclusive helps young people reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, while also helping them to develop the social and emotional skills key to becoming caring and empathetic people who learn how to navigate healthy relationships based on consent and respect.

FoSE’s National Sex Education Standards, Second Edition, published in March 2020, reflect this research and include indicators that help young people value diversity and think critically about the impact of racism and other systems of oppression on sexual health inequalities.  Sex education curricula mapped to these standards, such as Advocates for Youth’s Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3Rs) Curriculum and others build the critical thinking skills of young people to analyze the impact of these influences on their communities.

Far from being something to fear, quality sex education, like honest American history, Gay-Straight-Alliances, and other school-based equity efforts, is designed to help young people develop the social and emotional skills to be good global citizens that value equity and justice—qualities we should all strive to instill in our children.

Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth
Dan Rice, Executive Director, Answer
Christine Soyong Harley, Executive Director, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change