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Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that is part of a comprehensive school health education approach which addresses age-appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality. The curriculum should be designed to motivate and assist students to maintain and improve their sexual health, prevent disease and reduce sexual health-related risk behaviors. It should allow students to develop and demonstrate developmentally appropriate sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices. The comprehensive sexuality education curriculum should include a variety of topics including anatomy, physiology, families, personal safety, healthy relationships, pregnancy and birth, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, contraceptives, sexual orientation, pregnancy options, media literacy and more. It should be medically accurate. Qualified, trained teachers should provide sexuality education.

Exemplary Sexual Health Education (ESHE): A systematic, evidence-informed approach to sexual health education that includes the use of grade-specific, evidence-based interventions, but also emphasizes sequential learning across elementary, middle, and high school grade levels. ESHE provides adolescents the essential knowledge and critical skills needed to avoid HIV, other STD, and unintended pregnancy. ESHE is delivered by well-qualified and trained teachers, uses strategies that are relevant and engaging, and consists of elements that are medically accurate, developmentally and culturally appropriate, and consistent with the scientific research on effective sexual health education. For more information:

www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sher/characteristics/index.htm and

Evidence-Informed Programs (EI): “A program that is informed by scientific research and effective practice. Such a program replicates evidence-based programs or substantially incorporates elements of effective programs. The program shows some evidence of effectiveness, although it has not undergone enough rigorous evaluation to be proven effective”

Evidence-Based Interventions (EBI): A program that has been (i) proven effective on the basis of rigorous scientific research and evaluation and (ii) identified through a systematic independent review. EBIs related to sex education often show effectiveness in changing behavior associated with the risk factors for HIV/STD infection and/or unintended pregnancy among youth; these behaviors may include delaying sexual activity, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and/or increasing condom or contraceptive use.

Definitions adapted from:


Additional Resources:

• Characteristics of an effective health education curriculum:

• Analysis of health education curriculum:

• Selecting and implementing evidence-based sexual health education programs:



• Adapting sexual health education curriculum:

Select Comprehensive Sex Education Programs

Comprehensive sex education programs provide developmentally, age appropriate information for young people in elementary through high school. The following are a few such programs available.

F.L.A.S.H., Public Health – Seattle & King County

Rights.  Respect.  Responsibility – A K-12 Sexuality Education Curriculum, Advocates for Youth

Our Whole Lives (OWL), Unitarian Universalist Association


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