What You Need to Know
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
Before you begin making opinions or decisions regarding comprehensive sexuality education, it’s smart to know exactly what it is first. Healthy Youth RI’s definition of comprehensive sexuality education is very similar to SIECUS’. This resource provides facts about comprehensive sexuality education including the definition, how it reduces risk behaviors, how it encourages youth to make healthy choices, and discusses the large amount of supporters who are both health professionals and community members.
This resource has state pregnancy, abortion, and birth statistics, contraceptive services that are publically funded and their results, and various reproductive health state policies. The State Policies in Brief guide is updated monthly with key issues affecting adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights. The guide also provides resources solely about adolescents like minor’s access to contraceptive services, access to prenatal care, access to STI services, and rights as parents. There are also facts about parental involvement in minors’ abortion and sex and HIV education.
Here, the National Conference of State Legislatures provide updated legislations regarding sexuality education in schools, including state laws and medical accuracy.
Policy makers who are making decisions affecting sexuality programs in school are faced to answer important economic questions: what are the costs, and is it worth it? Here, you will find the actual costs of other sexuality health implemented education, and how intra-curricula sexuality programs are extremely efficient.
SIECUS made a how-to guide for policy makers, educators, providers, and activists that provides detailed instructions on how to develop guidelines for sexuality education programs. This resource includes components of sexuality education, how to develop efficient guidelines, suggestions on how to use the guidelines, suggestions for distribution and advocacy, and suggestions for coalition building. A confidential, free SIECUS account is required for access.
Thrive is Rhode Island’s Coordinated School Health Program was developed in 1994 with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and addresses all components that affect health in schools. Thrive is designed to prevent serious health problems and improve educational outcomes. In order to do this, Thrive promotes a comprehensive sexuality education approach that aim to delay sexual activity, increase pregnancy prevention and reduce risky behaviors. Here, Thrive addresses legislations and laws in Rhode Island that influence sexuality health education, and offer policy guidance resources for policy makers and Rhode Island schools.
Sex Education in the News
It’s not just the U.S. who is beginning to realize how important sexuality education is, it’s happening all over the world. The World Health Organization provides news on how countries in Europe and Central Asia have created and implemented sexuality education standards for schools. Together, health education professionals created ways to guarantee adolescents accurate sexuality health education. All participating countries warmly welcome the changes, and made it clear that these changes have been needed years.
Colorado’s new bill delineates criteria for “comprehensive human sexuality education” and establishes a grant program within the Department of Public Health and Environment to provide federal funding or otherwise appropriated state funds to public schools to create and implement evidence based, culturally sensitive, and age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education programs.
The Boston School Committee approved comprehensive sex education and condom availability last year. Condoms are available in all high-schools across the city. Students receive counseling about safe-sex choices before receiving the condoms, and parents have the right to exempt their children. This is all apart of the new District Wellness Policy
“Keeping students healthy is key to keeping them in school.”
-Marty Waltz, president and chief executive officer at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Colorado Youth Matter is a lead partner organization for the national Working to Institutionalize Sex Education (WISE) initiative, heading up Colorado-based WISE work in school districts. Colorado Youth Matter has successfully worked with some of Colorado’s largest school districts to find programs that fit the individual needs of students and staff. Through focused technical assistance and training resources, Colorado Youth Matter provides school districts with the tools and resources necessary to find science based comprehensive sexuality education programs, develop and adopt policies and practice standards that support the delivery of comprehensive sex education, and prepare teachers to deliver quality programs in classrooms.
No human being, including members of the LGBTQ community, should ever be denied their rights. Here, Advocates for Youth speak their mind about disturbing anti-homosexuality bills passed in Nigeria and Uganda. Due to these laws, citizens including youth will have to make the unfortunate and unneeded choice to be who they truly are andr face public ridicule and discrimination, or hide in secrecy. “Whether we witness it in our own communities or see it take root thousands of miles across the globe, we all must speak out against homophobia and bigotry of all kinds.”
Miriam Hospital conducted a study and the results are exactly why comprehensive sexuality education is needed. This study found that there is a link between intimate partner violence and the risk for HIV infection. The comprehensive sexuality education that HYRI believes in addresses both healthy relationships and intimate partner violence. HYRI also promotes the instruction of contraception and safer sex. If youth decide to abstain from abstinence and become sexually active, knowing how to be in a healthy relationship would increase the risk of contraception use, therefore decreasing the risk for HIV infection and other STI’s/STD’s.
Representative Henriquez and Senator Brownsberger introduced a joint petition in the first month of the Massachusetts 2013 state legislative session that would “establish a comprehensive health education curriculum in public schools, require health education be age-appropriate, medically accurate and evidence-based.” Minimum standards include instruction on HIV/AIDS, reproduction and sexual health education, among others.
This bill would aim to modernize Illinois’ sex education law and create a standard for existing sexual health education courses and would require existing sex education programs to teach complete, medically accurate, and developmentally and age-appropriate content. The bill would require school districts that choose to teach sex education to include instruction about abstinence and contraception, as a means of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.The bill, if enacted, wouldn’t require every school or classroom to teach sex education; it would require those that do to adopt a comprehensive approach.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Many abstinence-only curricula contain false, misleading, or distorted information. Despite clear evidence of failure, our government continues to fund and support abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Comprehensive sexuality education is supported by several health professionals and organizations. Public health statistics in the United States show the need for more, not less, information and services, specifically for adolescents. Change is needed.
Research has identified highly effective sex education and HIV prevention programs that affect multiple behaviors and achieve positive health impacts. Despite popular myths, comprehensive sexuality education does not increase rates of sexual initiation, the frequency of sex among youth, or increase the number of partners among youth. Yet, the government is pouring millions of dollars into abstinence-only sex education every year. Something doesn’t make sense.
Evidence-based programs have been proven again and again to reduce risky sexual behavior. ReCAPP, Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, provides evidence-based comprehensive sexual health programs to effectively reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors. Teachers, policy makers, and health educators will find up-to-date, evaluated programming materials to help with their work with teens.
The United States ranks first among developed nations in rates of both teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In this article, Kathrin F. Stranger-Hall and David W. Hall, two professors from the University of Georgia explain with evidence why abstinence-only education isn’t working. In fact, Hall & Hall are able to show that increasing emphasis on abstinence education is positively correlated with teenage pregnancy and birth rates.