New Sexual Education Standards Available for U.S. Public Schools: Kindergarteners to 12th-Graders Targeted

Article excerpt

A NEW SET of standards is designed to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on sexuality education for public schools.

The "National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12" were released in January by the Future of Sex Education Initiative, a partnership of Advocates for Youth, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States and the national sex education group Answer. The next step is widely disseminating the new standards and promoting them as providing minimum core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, said public health professionals are key players in ensuring that the standards help guide sexuality education.

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"The public health community is incredibly important for helping to train school-based personnel who don't necessarily have the same level of comfort and knowledge both about sex education and adolescent sexual development," Hauser told The Nation's Health. "The public health community also is incredibly important in conducting the advocacy necessary to get school districts to take on the standards in sex education in general."

Even in those school districts with robust, evidence-based sexuality education, educators have asked for help to make sure the messages they are sending students are the most effective, Hauser said. The standards offer a map to compare existing educational programs with what experts believe are the critical topics to cover at each grade level, she said.

The goal of the standards is to address both the fact that current school-based sexuality education is inconsistent and that most schools have limited time to teach the topic. …