Washington law on sexual health education states that “the decision as to whether or not a program about sexual health education is to be introduced into the common schools is a matter for determination at the district level by the local school board.” Any district that chooses to provide sexual health education must follow the requirements outlined in the Healthy Youth Act.
Additional information for schools is included in the related
All sexual health education offered in Washington public schools must meet the following criteria:
All instruction and materials used must be:
Abstinence may not be taught to the exclusion of instruction and materials on FDA approved contraceptives and other disease prevention methods. In other words, the instruction must be comprehensive.
Tools for Educators
- Guidelines for Sexual Health and Disease Prevention (PDF) – This 2005 guide provides a K-12 framework for comprehensive sexual health education in Washington schools. By law, all sexual health education that occurs in Washington public schools must be comprehensive.
- 2016 Health and PE Student
The new grade-level student learning outcomes provide guidance for
schools on what students should know and be able to do related to a
variety of topics, including sexual health, and they are not required.
They represent best practice for sexual health education and are aligned
with state legislative requirements for districts that do provide such
instruction. Adoption of the new standards does not change the fact that
sexual health education is optional for districts in Washington State.
- Comparison of the Healthy Youth Act and the AIDS Omnibus Act (PDF) - The Healthy Youth Act pertains only to sexual health education. Under the AIDS Omnibus Act, districts are still required to provide yearly HIV/AIDS prevention education beginning in Grade 5.
The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills,
K-12 was released in 2012 by a consortium of national health and
education organizations. The Standards provide clear guidance on
“essential minimum, core content” for sexuality education that is
developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades K-12.
Sexual Health Education Standards Comparison, Oct. 2013 shows that the
National Standards are in alignment with the WA State 2005 Guidelines,
Healthy Youth Act and K-12 Health and Fitness Learning Standards.
- Model Policy for Sexual Health Education (Word)
- Model Procedure for Sexual Health Education (Word)
2015 Sexual Health Ed Curriculum Report - The findings of these reviews are a suggested starting point for districts that are looking to implement or modify their sexual health education offerings.
- Sexual Health
Education Instructional Materials Review Instruments. WA
State-specific instruments designed to assess alignment of instructional
materials with WA State requirements (e.g.
Healthy Youth Act,
Discrimination/Bias in Instructional Materials) and optional sexual
health education student learning outcomes.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a
curriculum analysis tool
for use in assessing sexual health education content over the K-12 life
of a child.
- Sexual Health Education Supplemental Materials Evaluation Form (PDF)
If you have questions regarding the review process, please contact:
Sexual Health Education