How Should Sex Education Be Taught In School?

  • The goal of sex education is to empower students with the information and skills to become a sexually healthy adult. The exact details of how this looks and what this means will vary depending on age level and grade as well as where you’re teaching.

    One of the best ways to teach sex education in a school is to implement an existing evidence-based curricula. If this is an option for you, keep the following in mind:

    • The programs are not one size fits all. They vary in their approach, target population, setting, length, and desired outcome. Because of this, you should choose a program that is effective for the specific outcomes you want to achieve.
    • Monitoring program fidelity and quality are important to ensuring you reach the desired outcomes of the curriculum.

    For more advice around choosing and adapting a curriculum, click here.

    If for some reason ‒ time, funding, location, etc ‒ you cannot implement an existing program, you can adapt or develop your own. A number of organizations have identified the characteristics of an effective sexuality curriculum. Essentially these are the pieces that programs effective at reducing STIs and teen pregnancy have in common. Characteristics of such curricula include:

    1. A focus on clear health goals.
    2. A focus on the specific behaviors that lead to these goals.
    3. Information that is basic and age- and developmentally-appropriate.
    4. Addressing social pressures and influences.
    5. Create a safe environment for students to participate.
    6. Include multiple activity and instructionally-sound, age-appropriate teaching methods.
    7. Address and building self-efficacy around sexual psychosocial risk and protective factors.

    For more details about these characteristics and additional ones that are effective you can check out the following resources:

    Lastly, the CDC has put together a guide to adapting and  developing curriculum-based programs in a way that continues to be effective.

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