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OpenAthens Shibboleth
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Apr 2012

New Sex Education Standards Released

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(4):382. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.56

On January 9, 2012, Kimberly Hefling of the Associated Press reported that a coalition of health and education groups released new, non-binding guidelines for sex education in the United States. The recommendations to states and school districts aim to foster age-appropriate discussions that build sequentially for young children until they grow into adults.

The organizations involved are Advocates for Youth; the American Association of Health Education; the American School Health Association; the National Education Association–Health Information Network; the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education; and the Future of Sex Education Initiative.

The standards outlined include:

  • By the end of second grade, students should be able to use proper names for body parts; explain that all living things reproduce; identify different types of family structures; explain that everyone has the right not to be touched; and explain why bullying and teasing are wrong.

  • By the end of fifth grade, pupils should be able to describe the female and male reproductive systems; understand changes during puberty; define sexual orientation as “the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender;” define HIV and ways to prevent it; describe healthy relationships; and define teasing, harassment, bullying and sexual abuse.

  • By the end of eighth grade, students should be able to differentiate between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation; explain the range of gender roles; describe the signs of pregnancy; compare and contrast behaviors including abstinence to determine potential disease transmission risk; define emergency contraception and its use; and explain why a person who has been raped or sexually assaulted is not at fault.

  • By high school graduation, students should be able to analyze how brain development impacts changes in adolescence; define sexual consent and how it affects sexual decision-making; explain why using tricks, threats or coercion in relationships is wrong; and compare and contrast laws related to pregnancy adoption, abortion, and parenting.

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