Sexual Health Youth Advocacy Coalition

We are a national coalition of advocates, experts, and organizers working together to protect the rights of youth in out-of-home care, including juvenile correctional facilities and foster homes, to access comprehensive and essential sexual health care.


In October 2017, allies from cross-cutting issue areas including public and adolescent health, juvenile justice, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, sexuality education, and mass incarceration gathered to discuss a critical gap at the intersection of their work—the sexual health rights of youth under state custody.

Since this convening, SHYAC has launched the Consensus Statement, which highlights the need for laws and policies that guarantee the right to comprehensive, medically accurate, and affirming sexual health care for all youth under the care and custody of the state.

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The Consensus Statement

The Consensus Statement invites state policymakers to collaborate with SHYAC and develop and implement policy that ensures youth in their care receive inclusive and affirming sexual health care, consistent with prevailing medical standards and legal and ethical obligations. We also are calling for additional training for residents and staff in youth congregate care and detention settings that is inclusive of youth of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions as a predicate to ending institutional violence. Our coalition members believe it is our mission to hold state agencies accountable to the young people they are created to serve.

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Young people have the right to sexual health care and literacy including:

  • HIV and STI prevention;

  • Puberty and reproduction;

  • Contraception and family planning;

  • Sexual violence and healthy relationships;

  • Body image; and

  • Gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation

We promote the unifying principles that underlie these reforms:

  1. All youth deserve a chance to be happy and healthy, and to grow to be productive members of society.

  2. The human rights of youth are equal to those of adults.

  3. Youth should be placed in state custody only when it is necessary for their health and safety or the safety of others, and when no less restrictive alternative is feasible.

  4. When the state places young people in its custody, it assumes the role of parent to these youth and the obligation to provide for all of their essential health and safety needs, without imposition of a particular religious or ethical viewpoint.

  5. All young people have the right to autonomy in expression of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and in decision-making related to their reproductive health.


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