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First-ever national standards for sexuality educations in public schools have been released

Posted January 25th, 2012

New Gold Standard for Sexuality Education in Public Schools.  I am happy to say that I assisted with the review process of these new standards to give the parent perspective. Let me know if you have questions. 

For Immediate Release – January 9, 2012

Four leading health organizations released the first-ever
national standards for sexuality education in schools. Published in
the Journal of School Health, the ground-breaking National Sexuality
Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K–12 provide clear,
consistent, and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum,
core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and
age-appropriate for students in grades Kindergarten through grade 12.

The standards are the result of a cooperative effort by the American
Association of Health Education, the American School Health
Association, the National Education Association Health Information
Network, and the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical
Education, in coordination with the Future of Sex Education (FoSE)
Initiative. Nearly 40 stakeholders including content experts, medical
and public health professionals, teachers, sexuality educators, and
young people developed the standards in a two-year process.

“These National Sexuality Education Standards provide teachers,
schools, school districts, and state education agencies with a new
national standard—the minimum they need to teach to set students on a
path to sexual health and responsible adulthood,” said Jerry Newberry,
Executive Director of the National Education Association Health
Information Network (NEA HIN). “They set forth essential sexuality
education core content and skills responsive to the needs of students
and in service to their overall academic achievement.”

For years, research has highlighted the need to provide effective,
comprehensive sexuality education to young people. The United States
has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized
world and teens bear a disproportionate impact of the sexually
transmitted disease (STD) and HIV epidemics facing our nation. One in
four sexually active teens has a STD and two young people every hour
become HIV positive. Furthermore, there is also a pressing need to
address harassment, bullying, and relationship violence in our
schools, which have a significant impact on a student’s emotional and
physical well-being as well as their academic success. The National
Sexuality Education Standards set the groundwork for the minimum of
what sexuality education should look like in America’s public schools.

“These standards are presented in a user-friendly way, making it
possible for a health education teacher or parent, say, of a
seventh-grader, to easily find out what is the next step in the
learning process for a thirteen-year-old in regards to sexual health,”
said Stephen Conley, Executive Director of the American School Health

The standards focus on seven topics as the minimum, essential content
and skills for K–12 education: Anatomy and Physiology; Puberty and
Adolescent Development; Identity; Pregnancy and Reproduction; Sexually
Transmitted Diseases and HIV; Healthy Relationships; and, Personal
Safety. Topics are presented using performance indicators—what
students should know and be able to do by the end of grades 2, 5, 8,
and 12—and are based on the National Health Education Standards.

“The National Sexuality Education Standards translate an emerging body
of research related to school-based sexuality education so that it can
be put into practice in the classroom,” said Brian Griffith, President
Elect of the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical
Education. “These standards, developed by education and health
professionals, present sexual development as a normal, natural,
healthy part of human development that should be a part of every
health education curriculum.”

The National Sexuality Education Standards were developed to address
the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and
the limited time allocated to teaching the topic. General health
education is given very little time in the school curriculum. Even
less time is dedicated to sexuality education. According to the School
Health Policies and Practices Study, a national survey conducted by
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of
Adolescent School Health, a median total of 17.2 hours is devoted to
instruction in HIV, pregnancy, and STD prevention: 3.1 hours in
elementary, 6 hours in middle, and 8.1 hours in high school. Studies
have repeatedly found that health programs in school can help young
people succeed academically and programs that included health
education have a positive effect on overall academic outcomes,
including reading and math scores.

To view the complete National Sexuality Education Standards, click
here. To schedule an interview, please contact Danene Sorace,
Consultant to the FoSE Initiative, at 717.585.0503.


The American Association of Health Education serves educators and
other professionals who promote the health of all people through
education and health promotion strategies.

The American School Health Association works to build the capacity of
its members to plan, develop, coordinate, implement, evaluate and
advocate for effective school health strategies that contribute to
optimal health and academic outcomes for all children and youth.

The National Education Association – Health Information Network works
to improve the health and safety of the school community through
disseminating information that empowers school professionals and
positively impacts the lives of their students.

The Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education utilizes
advocacy, partnerships, professional development and resources to
build the capacity of school health leaders to implement effective
health education and physical education policies and practices that
support success in school, work and life.

The Future of Sex Education (FoSE) Initiative is a partnership between
Advocates for Youth, Answer, and the Sexuality Information and
Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) that seeks to create a national
dialogue about the future of sex education and to promote the
institutionalization of comprehensive sexuality education in public
schools. To learn more and view the complete National Sexuality
Education Standards, please visit

About me

I’m Barb Flis, Founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids. I insist that every parent has the power to make a difference. I’m a parent guru, a published expert in advocating for children’s health, and most importantly, a mother of two daughters. My focus lies in connecting families, schools and communities on children’s social, emotional and physical health. Areas of work include asthma, diabetes, sex education, mental health, school wellness programs, physical activity and nutrition. I design and implement trainings and workshops for parents, teachers, school administrators, public health professionals and community-based organizations. I’m also motivational speaker throughout my home state of Michigan and across the United States.