One Wisconsin Now Blog

Bill to repeal Healthy Youth Act is latest attack on children and schools

Article by Heather Allen

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On Wednesday October 19th, Walker's Legislature will hold a hearing on a Bill to Repeal the Healthy Youth Act. Just one more attack on Wisconsin children and schools. The Healthy Youth Act provides for sex-education in the classrooms and has contributed to lowering teen pregnancy in Wisconsin to the lowest it has been since the mid-1970s. Now Walker wants to ban doctors and nurses from teaching health classes with sex-ed in our schools.

Why does sex-ed matter to our state? Sex-ed helps prevent disease, empower students with skills they need to make responsible decisions and prevent pregnancy.

Teen-pregnancy causes kids to drop-out of high school. More than 60% of mothers under the age of eighteen never graduate from high-school. Young fathers are also more likely to drop-out of school. And while the personal costs for those students who drop-out of school are high, it's also dire for Wisconsin and the economy. Without a high-school diploma Americans are more likely to be unemployed, depend upon government assistance, and cycle in and out of the prison system. Rather than contributing to the local revenues and attracting business investment, high-school drop-outs cost billions in lost revenue and health and social service expenditures. The Alliance for Excellent Education found that if just 1000 dropouts in Wisconsin had graduated from high school collectively they would have:

  • Earned $10 million in additional earnings in an average year;
  • Spent an additional $1.1 million each year purchasing vehicles;
  • Supported 60 new jobs in the state;
  • Increased the State Gross Domestic Product by $12 million; and
  • Poured $1.2 million annually through state coffers and increased spending and investment

Despite the benefits to students the statewide economy, the Healthy Youth Act has been under attack by Republicans for some time. Last year One Wisconsin Now won a lawsuit against Republican Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth for his withholding of open records. Southworth failed to produce email records regarding a controversial March 2010 letter he sent to five Juneau County school districts saying the state's Healthy Youth Act "promotes the sexual abuse of children."

Scot Ross One Wisconsin Now Executive Director said, "One Wisconsin Now believes District Attorney Southworth wasted scarce taxpayer resources to serve an extremist political agenda and his allies in this anti-education effort. Whether District Attorney Southworth withheld these records to intentionally hide his coordination with political allies to oppose the Healthy Youth Act, or that it is simply he is incapable of performing his responsibilities as the custodian of public records is up to the public to determine."

Now is the time for the Walker Administration and Republican-led legislature to stand up for the children of Wisconsin and protect the programs that help students graduate. To repeal the Healthy Youth Act would be another step backward, threatening to reverse Wisconsin's stellar graduation rate and low teen-pregnancy rates. Let your voice be heard and visit the State Capitol on Wednesday October 19th at noon and tell the Senate Education Committee that we want to keep our youth healthy!