Sexual Health Education
Sexual Health Education
OSPI provides technical assistance and support to schools by promoting best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual health education that are consistent with state requirements.
Washington state law requires annual HIV/AIDS prevention education beginning in grade 5, in accordance with the AIDS Omnibus Act. The KNOW curriculum is one option for meeting HIV/AIDS prevention requirements in grades 5-8.
As of December 2020, all public schools must begin providing or planning to provide comprehensive sexual health education (CSHE) to all students by the 2022-23 school year. Instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards, which provide a framework for comprehensive instruction, and the provisions of RCW 28A.300.475. CSHE for students in grades 4-12 is defined in the law as "recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is medically accurate, age-appropriate and inclusive of all students...using language and strategies that recognize all protected classes." Instruction for students in grades Kindergarten-3 is defined in the law as Social-Emotional Learning.
See our CSHE Implementation page for more information!
Remote Learning Considerations
The need for medically accurate sexual health education is greater than ever as students spend more time online, and often have more unsupervised time.
- Address increased needs related to online safety, healthy relationships, and consent.
- Relate required HIV/STD prevention instruction to COVID-19 prevention strategies.
- Create a safe space for students to engage in the conversation and ask questions – develop group norms, consider the use of avatars in class, use Anonymous Google Doc Settings, Sli.do, Mentimeter, or Poll Everywhere for anonymous questions.
- Address challenges related to privacy – consider using both synchronous and asynchronous instruction to allow flexibility; consider requiring/providing earbuds.
- Engage families – notify them of planned instruction, offer and honor opt-outs, keep them informed, use family homework assignments related to classroom instruction.
Remote Learning Considerations for all content areas, including Health Education, can be found on OSPI’s COVID-19 Guidance and Resources webpage. Additional resources specific to sexual health education can be found on the HIV and Sexual Health Education Resources page.
SHB 1539 (Erin’s Law), passed by the WA legislature in 2018, addressed sexual abuse prevention in Washington state schools. The bill did not require schools to provide sexual abuse prevention instruction. OSPI and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) were tasked with reviewing curricula and developing recommendations for school-based sexual abuse prevention in grades K-12.
School Health Profiles is a survey conducted in Washington State every two years by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to assess the status of health and wellness-related policies, procedures, instruction and environments in public secondary schools. The survey is coordinated by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH).