At a press conference, Wednesday, Feb. 26, a group of advocates announce their support for the Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children's Health ( REACH ) Act, which mandates comprehensive, inclusive and age-appropriate personal health and safety education for K-12 public schools in Illinois.
Co-sponsors of the bill are state Sen. Ram Villivalam ( D-8 ) and state Rep. Kathleen Willis ( D-77 ). Currently, 29 states mandate sex education, of which Illinois is not one.
The REACH Act outlines age-appropriate curriculum as:
Grades K-2: instruction focuses on personal safety, identifying trusted adults who children can rely on for guidance and support, and respecting others.
Grades 3-5: instruction continues to focus on personal safety and healthy relationships, discusses bullying, harassment, and abuse and covers topics such as anatomy, puberty, hygiene, body image, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Grades 6-12: instruction builds on prior instruction about healthy relationships by covering issues like consent, sexual harassment, abuse, and inter-personal violence, provides additional information on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and covers the benefits of abstinence, behavioral changes, barrier methods like condoms, medication, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention measures.
The REACH ACT is also supported by AAUW Illinois, ALPHAS ( African-American Lesbian Professionals Having A Say ), ANA-Illinois, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Chicago Children's AdvocacyCenter, Comprehensive Sex Ed Now, Equality Illinois, Illinois Association of School Nurses, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Illinois Public Health Association, Lambda Legal, National Association of Social WorkersIllinois Chapter, Peer Health Exchange, Peoria Proud, PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois, Phoenix Center, Prairie Pride Coalition, Rainbow Cafe and Resilience, among others.