Frequently Asked Questions: Teachers and Youth Providers
You want to support your students to reach their full potential -- we're here to help. Below are a few questions teachers and youth providers often have about sexual health education and Health Connected’s programs.
Why is sexual health education important?
At Health Connected, we know that young people are most likely to make informed decisions that are right for them when they have both medically accurate information and the necessary communication and decision-making skills to apply that information to their lives. Research clearly demonstrates that comprehensive sexual health education, which teaches about both abstinence and contraception, is more effective than abstinence-only sex education in preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, sexual health education is a valuable opportunity to build foundational social skills. In California, all sexuality education must be both medically accurate and comprehensive. Minors have the right to be informed of all topics regarding reproductive health including abstinence, contraception, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
What does California Education Code require for sexual health education in public school?
In January 2016, California adopted a new law, the California Healthy Youth Act, covering sexual health education in public schools. As a parent, student, teacher, or community member, you may want to know the following facts about the law.
- Sexual health education is required twice during a student’s educational career: at least once in middle school and at least once in high school.
- Sexual health education provided in any grade (including puberty education) must be medically accurate and age-appropriate. Materials must be appropriate for students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners. All instruction must:
- Affirmatively recognize people have different orientation and include examples
- Teach about gender, gender expression, gender identity and the harm of negative stereotypes
- Encourage communication with parents/guardians/ trusted adults
- Teach about healthy relationships
- Teach about decision making, negotiation and refusal skills
- Teach the value of and prepare pupils to have and maintain committed relationships, such as marriage
- Starting in 7th grade, must cover abstinence, effectiveness and safety of contraception, protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and decision-making. Schools must use trusted sources of information, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to determine medical accuracy. All pregnancy and STI prevention devices that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration must be covered.
- Schools cannot provide abstinence-only programs. Abstinence-only education presents abstinence as the only option for preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases; California law requires that other methods be included. Many abstinence-only programs are religious in nature; sex education cannot promote religious doctrine.
- Parents must be notified that their child will have sex education at the beginning of the school year or at least 14 days before classes start and be allowed to see the materials before classes start. If a parent does not want their child to take the class, they must make a written request excusing their child from instruction.
- Teachers who will be delivering sexual health education must be trained in the subject. Schools may use outside organizations or speakers provided they have the requisite training, but those organizations must also follow the law when they present.
This is just a brief overview of the CA Education Code. To see the full text of the California Healthy Youth Act, sections 51930-51939 of the California Education Code, click here. If you are concerned that your school is not following the law, we’d be happy to talk with you to understand your school’s situation and connect you with resources.
All of Health Connected’s curricula align with the Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools and meet the requirements of CA Education Code (sections 51930-51939). For more information on the California Health Education standards, please visit the California Department of Education here.
See a more detailed view of how Health Connected’s curricula meet these standards:
- Health Standards vs. Puberty Talk Curriculum
- Health Standards vs. Teen Talk Middle School Curriculum
- Health Standards vs. Teen Talk High School Curriculum
- Health Standards vs. Teen Talk High School Refresher Curriculum
- Health Standards vs. Teen Talk Adapted for All Abilities Curriculum
Why should our school choose Health Connected for our sex ed needs?
We’ve based our modern, thoughtful approach to sexual health education on CA Education Code requirements, best practices in the field, and the experience we’ve gained serving well over 400,000 students since our founding. We’ve structured our programs and curricula around the deep-seated belief that students need information, skills, and support to make thoughtful choices about their relationships and sexual health, not just during adolescence, but throughout their lives. Through skill-building and opportunities for critical thinking, we help students identify their personal values, communicate those values to their parents, peers, and partners, and act on those values.
For more information on Health Connected’s impact click here.
I provide youth services, but I'm not a school teacher -- can I still register for your trainings?
Yes! Health Connected’s comprehensive sexuality education training programs are available to any professional working with youth ages 10-18. The goal of our fun, interactive trainings is to provide both teachers and youth providers with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to carry out Health Connected’s medically accurate, age-appropriate puberty and sexuality education programming in whatever setting you work.
When is your next open-enrollment training for teachers or youth providers?
To find out about upcoming open-enrollment trainings, check here.
Could your trainers come to us?
Health Connected is happy to work with your district, school, or organization to develop a training tailored to your needs. Whether that is a full curriculum implementation training on one or more of our curricula or targeted support on a particular topic, we want to support your team to implement effective sexual health education. To find out how we can support your community, please email training(at)health-connected.org.
Our school needs specialized support -- can you help?
In addition to our open-enrollment trainings and tailored in-service trainings for school districts, we also provide specialized trainings and technical assistance upon request. To learn more and to gain additional support in implementing quality sexual health education, please email us at training(at)health-connected.org.