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(AP) Yesterday, Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) held a press conference at Time Out Youth, a local LGBTQ youth center in Charlotte, NC, to announce the introduction of the Youth Access to Sexual Health Services (YASHS) Act. The bill provides federal funding to expand access to sexual health services and scientifically-based, inclusive sexual health information and support programs that promote sexual health for LGBTQ youth, young people of color, homeless youth, youth in foster care, immigrant youth, and youth in juvenile detention.

In a recent report, HRC hailed the introduction of the YASHS Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by Adams to provide sexual health services to marginalized youth. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and seven co-sponsors introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

"Recent studies rank North Carolina among the states with the highest number of reported cases of STDs in the nation," said Congresswoman Adams. "Across the U.S., youth ages 13-24 account for more than one in five new HIV diagnoses, an epidemic that must be stopped." 

HRC joined nearly 30 national organizations including the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to endorse the YASHS Act. Scott Bishop, a member of HRC's Board of Directors, and HRC Southern Regional Field Organizer Hope Jackson were present at the event to thank Congresswoman Adams for introducing important legislation that will support the needs of LGBTQ youth across the country.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Equality North Carolina's Interim Director Matt Hirschy, and Councilmember LaWana Mayfield joined Congresswoman Adams in speaking to the importance of YASHS and protecting underserved youth. 

"Far too many youths in this country face far too many barriers that prevent them from accessing very necessary health resources and services," said ENC Interim Director, Hirschy. Our current systems are struggling to reach LGBTQ, immigrant, and homeless youth and we can't rely on that any longer. That's why Equality NC is proud to endorse Representative Adams' YASHS act alongside so many other organizations."

"If we are going to help every young person in this community to be successful then we must be committed to the development of all facets to their mental and physical health. The YASHS goes a long way towards that total development of our youth," said Councilmember Mayfield. "We know that our youth faces challenges that we never faced... particularly pleased to see that grantees have to form a partnership with community organizations like Time Out Youth, use scientifically effect strategies, provide medically accurate information, provide an annual report on their uses of funds and how their efforts increased youth access to sexual health services," said Mayor Roberts. And so, we are talking about a way that young people know that they are getting real information so they may have empowerment to take control of their futures and their lives."

In far too many places across the country, at-risk youth that are LGBTQ, people of color, homeless or in foster care or juvenile facilities lack access to medically-accurate sex education and health services that are imperative to their sexual health and well-being. Congresswoman continued leadership helps protect and expand healthcare for LGBTQ youth.

Learn more about sexual health education from HRC's brief, "A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education" here.