Support and Implement Comprehensive Sexuality Education Programs in Local Schools

Comprehensive sexuality education is a lifelong learning process that addresses issues related to sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, and gender roles. The goal of comprehensive, school-based sexuality education is to help young people gain a healthy view of sexuality, provide them with sexual health information, and empower them to make sound decisions now and in the future.

Providing young people with information about sexual and reproductive health is important because most young people engage in sexual activity for the first time during adolescence. Evaluations of comprehensive sexuality education, HIV-prevention, and adolescent pregnancy prevention programs have shown that these programs delay the onset of intercourse, reduce the frequency of intercourse, decrease the number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use. Comprehensive sexuality education programs provide an important strategy for creating healthy communities for young people in urban areas.

Local Recommendations:

Political support at the local level for comprehensive sexual health information and services is essential to the health and well-being of young people and the community as a whole. Each state and county has a unique set of laws, regulations, and funding sources regarding sexuality education. Some states mandate comprehensive sexuality education, some require that abstinence be stressed or that curricula be medically accurate and comprehensive if taught at all, and some are silent on the issue. Beyond the point of what curriculum is mandated or recommended, individual principals and teachers vary greatly in the content they teach.

The variations between state, county, and school board policies, and their complicated relationship to each other, make it necessary for advocates to be well informed and to strategically target appropriate decision-makers. Ultimately, local activists and local policymakers are well positioned to respond to the unique and complex set of policies determining and regulating sexuality education and funding in their school districts.
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© 2012 National Institute for Reproductive Health