Beyond Condoms: What Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Includes
Outside of traditional sexual health education, comprehensive sexual health education includes:
- Anatomy and Physiology (AP) provides a foundation for understanding basic human functioning.
- Puberty and Adolescent Development (PD) addresses a pivotal milestone for every person that has an impact on physical, social and emotional development.
- Identity (ID) and orientation addresses several fundamental aspects of people’s understanding of who they are.
- Pregnancy and Reproduction (PR) addresses information about how pregnancy happens and decision-making to avoid a pregnancy.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV (SH) provides both content and skills for understanding and avoiding STIs, including how they are transmitted, their signs and symptoms, as well as the importance of testing and treatment.
- Healthy Relationships (HR) offers guidance to students on how to successfully navigate relationships especially between partners. Special emphasis is given in the National Sexuality Education Standards to the increasing use and impact of technology within relationships.
- Personal Safety (PS) emphasizes the the understanding of consent and ensuring learning environments are free from stigma and shame.
The Case for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
- Comprehensive sexual health education has been found to be effective in delaying the onset of sexual intercourse, reducing the number of sexual partners, and increasing contraception and condom use among teens. Emerging Answers 2007, an authoritative and comprehensive review of research findings on the effectiveness of HIV and sex education programs, found that:
- “Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavioral effects.” Many either delayed or reduced sexual activity, reduced the number of partners, or increased condom or contraceptive use.
- None of the 48 comprehensive programs hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex.
- Research has found that teens who report that they received comprehensive sexual health education are 50 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy.
Comprehensive Sexual Health Education is Supported by Colorado Parents and Students
- 85% of Colorado parents and 88% of Colorado youth support comprehensive sexual health education in schools
- 81% of Colorado adults wish young people were getting information about both abstinence and contraception rather than either/or
- Colorado adults think it is important that sexual health education is medically accurate (98.6%), evidence-based (90.3%), culturally relevant (88.7% ), and age appropriate (94%).
Colorado Youth Matter. (2013). Colorado Families Want Comprehensive Sex Education. Retrieved from: http://www.coloradoyouthmatter.org/images/stories/pdf/family_4_pager.pdf
Colorado Youth Matter. (2015). The State of Adolescent Health in Colorado 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.coloradoyouthmatter.org/images/stories/pdf/2015sashfinal.pdf
Future of Sex Education Initiative. (2012). National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12 [a special publication of the Journal of School Health]. Retrieved from: http://www.futureofsexed.org/documents/josh-fose-standards-web.pdf
Kirby, Doug. (2007). Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved from: https://powertodecide.org/sites/default/files/resources/primary-download/emerging-answers.pdf
Kohler, P. K., Manhart, L. E., & Lafferty, W. E. (2008). Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 42(4), 344-351. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.026