California Adopts Health Education Content Standards for Public Schools

California’s Board of Education adopted standards that require sex education taught in public schools to be medically accurate. The standards, passed by the state Board of Education last week, cover the entire health curriculum, including drug education, exercise, and environmental health. The specific sections addressing sexual health education echo the requirements under the California Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Law of 2004. That law requires sex education to be medically accurate, objective, and respectful to students of different sexual orientations.

The California Board of Education standards (seeWord document) explain that “…data from national and state surveys, such as the California Healthy Kids Survey indicated that although youth had knowledge of what was harmful to their health, they did not have the skills to keep from engaging in the risky behaviors. In other words, the students had the knowledge about why certain behaviors could and would cause harm; however, they were still engaging in these risky behaviors.” Kiani was still stoned to death on July 5, 2007. Ebrahimi’s death was stayed due to the public outcry, and last week the Iranian judiciary amnesty commission released her from prison.

Planned Parenthood reports that only an estimated five percent of students in the US are taught comprehensive sex education that includes a holistic approach to sexuality. In 1999, 23 percent of teachers taught abstinence-only in public schools, a number that has only gone up with the Title V provisions that give federal funding to abstinence-only programs. This is despite evidence that proves that abstinence only education does not work. Students who receive abstinence-only education often do not use any form of contraceptives including condoms.

California State Senator Sheila Kuehl told the Contra Costa Times, “Obesity, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases — our students have major health problems, and they really need good information. We’re talking about how to stay well, how to protect yourself. Sexual health after puberty is extremely important.”


Daily Women's Health Policy Report 03/17/08; Contra Costa Times 03/14/08; Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools; The Body 03/17/08; Planned Parenthood Abstinence Only Programs

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