What is Sex Education?

Sex education helps people gain the information, skills and motivation to make healthy decisions about sex and sexuality. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of sex education, reaching 1.2 million people a year.

Facts About Comprehensive Sex Education

Sex education is high quality teaching and learning about a broad variety of topics related to sex and sexuality, exploring values and beliefs about those topics and gaining the skills that are needed to navigate relationships and manage one’s own sexual health. Sex education may take place in schools, in community settings, or online. Planned Parenthood believes that parents play a critical and central role in providing sex education. Resources for parents can be found here.  

Comprehensive sexuality education refers to K-12 programs that cover a broad range of topics related to:

  • Human Development (including reproduction, puberty, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
  • Relationships (including families, friendships, romantic relationships and dating)
  • Personal Skills (including communication, negotiation, and decision-making)
  • Sexual Behavior (including abstinence and sexuality throughout life)
  • Sexual Health (including sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and pregnancy)
  • Society and Culture (including gender roles, diversity, and sexuality in the media)

Several important resources exist to guide comprehensive sexuality education implementation, including:

  • The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education was developed by a national task force of experts in the field of adolescent development, health care, and education. They provide a framework of the key concepts, topics, and messages that all sexuality education programs would ideally include.
  • The Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE) seeks to create a national dialogue about the future of sex education and to promote the institutionalization of comprehensive sexuality education in public schools. They have developed the first-ever National Sexuality Education Standards, National Teacher Preparation Standards and many additional toolkits and materials to strengthen comprehensive sexuality education implementation and professional development.

What Role Does Planned Parenthood Play In Sex Education?

Planned Parenthood education staff reach 1.5 million individuals each year, and 64% of those individuals are middle school and high school aged youth.

Planned Parenthood education departments provide a robust range of programming options, including:

  • Evidence-Based education programs for young people, adults and priority populations
  • Peer Education Programs
  • Promotores Programs and other community-driven, culturally relevant health education programs.
  • Parent/Family Education Programs
  • LGBTQ-focused Programs for LGBTQ youth and their parents/caregivers.
  • Training of Professionals, including educators and school-staff, community-based organization staff, and faith-based leaders.
  • Outreach and Single Session Workshops

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