New bill will reduce sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancies in teens

By Leonardo Cervantes

Senate Bill 541 should pass; it would educate teenagers who are enrolled in any of California state schools, of sexually transmitted diseases and prevent and reduce unintended pregnancies.

Senate Bill 541 would mandate that all pupils in grades 7 to 12, to receive comprehensive sexual health education and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention education.

 If this bill were to pass, it would help reduce the amount of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. This bill is set for a hearing today.

This bill would help prevent and reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, beginning in the 2024-25 school year. 

Each public school, including schools operated by a school district or county office of education and charter schools, would have to make condoms available to all pupils free of charge.

The bill would require each public school to allow the distribution of condoms during the course of, or in connection to, educational or public health programs and initiatives, as provided.

 For many households, sex conversations can quickly get awkward between parents and their kids. For students unable to discuss obtaining condoms with parents, the provision of free condoms from their schools is a safe alternative.

According to Wisevoter’s HIV and STD indexes, California is ranked 10th in the nation for HIV and ranked 27th in the nation for STDs.

According to Wisevoter’s statistics, California has seen an increase of STDs since 2012, with high prevalence among young people of the ages 15-24.

Wisevoter’s data also shows that Los Angeles county has 1,464 cases of STDs per 100,000 people.

Much of the impacted demographic are grade level students, which makes passing SB 541 essential for encouraging students to practice safe sex.

The upside of condoms being given to students for free is that they learn how to practice safe sex to reduce the transmission of STDs and HIV. 

Another benefit of providing condoms at no cost to students is that they would have more money to spend on themselves. 

 Oftentimes, students are on a low budget and have to decide wisely when to use it.

 Now instead of buying condoms, they can spend it on snacks or a fast food meal. 

Students who may have the dilemma of choosing between condoms or other expenses would no longer have to worry if this bill is passed.

While most student past a certain age have at least a vague understanding of sex education, many say they were hardly taught about it in school. 

Oftentimes, students receive basic information on this topic during middle school to prepare them for high school. 

According to Planned Parenthood, sex education programming varies widely across the United States. 

Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia mandate some kind of sex education or HIV education.

State legislation, originally known as AB 329, required students in seventh through 12th grades to be taught comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention.

 According to the California Department of Education, school districts that are under the leadership of their locally elected boards and superintendents are tasked to select which curriculum and instructional resources (including textbooks and worksheets) schools will use to teach students about sex education. 

If SB 541 passes, it would bring more free will to teachers choosing how they want to teach the subject to students.

 With condoms being free and widely available at school it helps with reducing the numbers of unintended pregnancies, STDs and sexually transmitted infections. It would be foolish for lawmakers not to pass SB 541.

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