CHICAGO – To create a comprehensive, inclusive health and safety curriculum for Illinois public schools, State Senator Ram Villivalam’s (D-Chicago) Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act was signed into law today.
“No student should feel stigmatized or excluded in the classroom,” Villivalam said. “This legislation establishes guidelines for an inclusive, culturally competent curriculum to keep students safe and healthy.”
The Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act establishes the requirements for public and charter schools that elect to teach comprehensive personal health and safety education in grades K-5, and comprehensive sexual health education in grades 6-12. A parent or guardian can opt their student out of instruction. Schools will retain local control through the selection of curriculum and instructional materials.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, reports of sexual assaults at elementary, middle and high schools increased sharply between 2015 and 2018. To combat this trend, the legislation introduces basic concepts of mutual respect and personal boundaries into curricula to help children understand the fundamentals of healthy relationships from a young age. Middle and high school students will be taught skills for dealing with issues like dating, consent, harassment, sexual violence and inter-personal violence.
The new law was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Planned Parenthood, Equality Illinois and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
Senate Bill 818 is effective immediately and is expected to be implemented by the 2023-2024 school year.