By Tiffany Chan, CBS Boston

BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate approved a bill Thursday to update the state’s sex education curriculum in schools and make it more inclusive.

The proposal would include teaching students about gender identity as well as LGBTQ+ health. Advocates argue the “Healthy Youth Act” is long overdue, as Massachusetts hasn’t updated how sex education has been taught since 1999.

“We can’t ignore these conversations,” said Nithya Badrinath of Jane Doe Inc. “We can’t ignore hateful rhetoric that is floating around against queer and trans youth. We need our students to feel safe, feel heard, feel comfortable in their bodies.”

“Feeling self-acceptance and having other people accept them and that should be part of what we’re learning in schools,” said one parent. “Everyone has a right to be who they are.”

The bill doesn’t force school districts to offer sex education classes. Rather, it sets guidelines for the ones that do. Parents also have the option to opt out. One grandmother who opposes it told WBZ TV children should learn about these topics from family, not in school.

“I try to talk to my granddaughter about things like that because she’s a girl, I’m a girl, and I think it would be more comfortable if she talked to me about it,” said Barbara McNeil.

The State Senate has approved the Healthy Youth Act five times now but it has yet to pass the House.