OSPI Building Closed to the Public

Throughout the duration of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” directive, OSPI will continue serving the public via phone, email, and the website.
See OSPI’s COVID-19 guidance and resources for educators, students, and families.

  • Facebook
  • OSPI on Twitter
  • OSPI Medium
  • OSPI LinkedIn
  • OSPI YouTube
  • OSPI on Flickr
  • Subscribe to OSPI GovDelivery

You are here

Home » Student Success » Resources by Subject Area » Sexual Health Education

Sexual Health Education

What's New

New legislation (SB 5395), passed by the Legislature in 2020, will require all school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health education by the 2022-23 school year. 

Contact Information

Sexual Health Education

Laurie Dils
360-725-6364

OSPI provides technical assistance and support to schools by promoting best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual health education. The Guide to Sexual Health Education Implementation in Washington State (2020) summarizes legislative requirements and best practices for providing sexual health education in schools.  

Washington state law requires annual HIV/AIDS prevention education beginning in grade 5. Districts that choose to offer sexual health education that extends beyond HIV/AIDS prevention must comply with the Healthy Youth Act.

Senate Bill 5395, passed by the legislature in 2020, will add new requirements for schools in the 2020-2021 school year.

Sexual Health Education Requirements 

Grades K-3

No sexual health content is currently required for grades K-3.

If districts choose to provide sexual health education, it must be consistent with requirements in the Healthy Youth Act.

Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, schools must provide social emotional learning (SEL) to students in grades K-3. No sexuality content will be required.

Grades 4-5

The only instruction currently required is HIV/STD prevention, which must start no later than 5th grade and be provided annually through 12th grade. If districts choose to provide additional sexual health education, it must be consistent with requirements in the Healthy Youth Act.

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, If schools are already providing sexual health education they must ensure that students get age-appropriate instruction on affirmative consent and bystander training.

Affirmative consent is an approach to giving and receiving consent that includes clear and voluntary permission to engage in sexual activity. It is not just the absence of “no.” In 4th or 5th grades it might focus on hugs or horseplay, and in older grades on hugs or sexual contact. Bystander training teaches students how to safely intervene when they see sexual harassment or unwanted sexual activity. They are included in this legislation as a way for schools to combat the high rates of unwanted sexual contact experienced by youth in our state. 

Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, schools must start providing sexual health education no later than 5th grade. Instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards. Grade-level outcomes are provided as examples only and do not represent a required course of instruction.

Required topics of instruction are described in ESSB 5395, with a focus on helping students understand and respect personal boundaries, develop healthy friendships, and gain a basic understanding of human growth and development. Currently required HIV/STD prevention instruction will continue to be required.

For more information, see New Legislation: Senate Bill 5395.

Grades 6-8

The only instruction currently required is HIV/STD prevention, which must start no later than 5th grade and be provided annually through 12th grade.

If districts choose to provide additional sexual health education, it must be consistent with requirements in the Healthy Youth Act. Additionally, according to RCW 28A.300.145, instruction must include "age-appropriate information about the legal elements of sexual [sex] offenses (under chapter 9A.44 RCW) where a minor is a victim and the consequences upon conviction."

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, If schools are already providing sexual health education they must ensure that students get age-appropriate instruction on affirmative consent and bystander training.

Affirmative consent is an approach to giving and receiving consent that includes clear and voluntary permission to engage in sexual activity. It is not just the absence of “no.” In 6th, 7th, and 8th grades it might focus on hugs or other physical contact, including sexual contact. Bystander training teaches students how to safely intervene when they see sexual harassment or unwanted sexual activity. They are included in this legislation as a way for schools to combat the high rates of unwanted sexual contact experienced by youth in our state. 

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, schools must start providing sexual health education at least twice in grades 6-8. This could be two separate units in one grade or ideally, a unit in two different grades. Best practice suggests providing instruction over time, building on earlier instruction. Instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards. Grade-level outcomes are provided as examples only and do not represent a required course of instruction.

Required topics of instruction are described in ESSB 5395, with a focus on helping students understand and respect personal boundaries, develop healthy friendships and dating relationships, gain a deeper understanding of human growth and development, and develop skills to support choosing healthy behaviors and reduce health risks, including understanding the influence of family and society on healthy sexual relationships. Currently required HIV/STD prevention instruction will continue to be required.

For more information, please see New Legislation: Senate Bill 5395

Grades 9-12

The only instruction currently required is HIV/STD prevention, which must start no later than 5th grade and be provided annually through 12th grade.

If districts choose to provide additional sexual health education, it must be consistent with requirements in the Healthy Youth Act. Additionally, according to RCW 28A.300.145, instruction must include "age-appropriate information about the legal elements of sexual [sex] offenses (under chapter 9A.44 RCW) where a minor is a victim and the consequences upon conviction."

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, If schools are already providing sexual health education they must ensure that students get age-appropriate instruction on affirmative consent and bystander training.

Affirmative consent is an approach to giving and receiving consent that includes clear and voluntary permission to engage in sexual activity. It is not just the absence of “no.” In 4th and 5th grades it might focus on hugs or horseplay, and in older grades on hugs or other physical contact, including sexual contact. Bystander training teaches students how to safely intervene when they see sexual harassment or unwanted sexual activity. They are included in this legislation as a way for schools to combat the high rates of unwanted sexual contact experienced by youth in our state. 

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, schools must start providing sexual health education at least twice in grades 9-12. This could be two separate units in one grade or ideally, a unit in two different grades. Best practice suggests providing instruction over time, building on earlier instruction. Instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards. Grade-level outcomes are provided as examples only and do not represent a required course of instruction.

Required topics of instruction are described in ESSB 5395, with a focus on helping students understand and respect personal boundaries, develop healthy friendships and dating relationships, gain a deeper understanding of human growth and development, and develop skills to support choosing healthy behaviors and reduce health risks, including how to access valid health care and prevention resources and understanding the influence of family and society on healthy sexual relationships. Currently required HIV/STD prevention instruction will continue to be required.

For more information, please see New Legislation: Senate Bill 5395


HIV/AIDS Prevention Education

HIV/AIDS prevention education is required yearly in grades 5–12 by the AIDS Omnibus Act.

Healthy Youth Act

The Healthy Youth Act (state law) provides a framework for those districts that choose to provide sexual health education.

Erin’s Law (Sexual Abuse Prevention)

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 the school-based sexual abuse prevention in grades K-12.

Instructional Materials Review Reports and Tools

In partnership with the Department of Health, OSPI conducts regular reviews of curricula and other materials to support districts in meeting state requirements for the delivery of sexual health education (RCW 28A.300.475).

KNOW Curriculum

The KNOW Curriculum is one of two HIV/STD curriculum options available to school districts in Washington state. Districts may use OSPI's "model" curriculum, KNOW, or a curriculum developed or purchased by the district that has been reviewed by the Department of Health (DOH) for medical accuracy.

School Health Profiles

A representative survey of schools conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) every two years to collect information about school health policies, instruction, and practices. OSPI conducts the Washington state survey.

Tags: 
Sex Ed