Education Obituary

U.S. Senator Pushed for Sex Ed. and Higher Drinking Age

By Nirvi Shah — June 11, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., who spearheaded federal legislation to raise the drinking age to 21 and pushed for comprehensive sex education in the nation’s schools, died June 3 of complications from viral pneumonia. He was 89.

In 1987, the de facto national drinking age became 21, under legislation stipulating that states that refused to raise the minimum age for drinking alcohol would lose part of their federal transportation aid. Sen. Lautenberg won over President Ronald Reagan in the fight to pass the measure, which has been credited with saving thousands of lives that would have been lost in alcohol-related crashes.

Sen. Lautenberg’s proposed Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, reintroduced in February with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., seeks to expand age-appropriate comprehensive sex education programs, train teachers to talk to teenagers about unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, and expand sex education programs at colleges. The bill would also prevent federal funds from being spent on what a press release called “ineffective, medically inaccurate sex education.”

Mr. Lautenberg announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election after his fifth term in office, which would have expired in January 2015.

His interest in education included anti-bullying efforts. In 2011, he and others from the New Jersey congressional delegation recorded a message for the “It Gets Better” Project, which aims to give students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender hope they will move beyond any harassment they experience as teenagers.

Mr. Lautenberg was the oldest member of the U.S. Senate and its last World War II veteran.

A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2013 edition of Education Week as U.S. Senator Pushed for Sex Ed. and Higher Drinking Age

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week