Comprehensive Sexual Health
Curriculum: Health Education
1515 Hughes Way
Long Beach, CA 90810
California Healthy Youth Act
The California Healthy Youth Act, which took effect in January 2016, requires school districts throughout the state to provide students with comprehensive sexual education, along with information about HIV prevention at least once in high school and once in middle school. In Long Beach Unified, this takes place in seventh-grade Health class for middle school and in Biology class in high school. Biology is most commonly completed in tenth grade.
State law defines comprehensive sexual health education as “education regarding human development and sexuality, including education on pregnancy, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections” (EC § 51931[b]). HIV prevention education is defined as “instruction on the nature of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS, methods of transmission, strategies to reduce the risk of HIV infection, and social and public health issues related to HIV and AIDS'' (EC § 51931[d]).
Before the instruction of the comprehensive sexual health lessons, parents are notified in writing in the LBUSD Parent Guidelines (see pages 3 and 5) in the beginning of the year, and then by their child’s teacher at least two weeks before the lessons are taught. In addition, there is an opportunity for parents to preview the lessons at this time.
The law is clear that parents can opt-out of comprehensive sexual health education, and local districts choose which curriculum and instructional resources they will use to teach comprehensive sexual education to their students.
Clarification of the law is summarized below:
The law prohibits active consent for any part of comprehensive sexual health education or HIV prevention education. Passive (not active) parent/guardian notification is required for comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, either at the beginning of the school year or at least 14 days prior to instruction.
Comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education are both mandated instruction and shall occur once in middle school and once in high school. The EC defines comprehensive sexual health education as “education regarding human development and sexuality, including education on pregnancy, contraception, and STIs” and HIV prevention education as “instruction on the nature of HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), methods of transmission, strategies to reduce the risk of HIV infection, and social and public health issues related to HIV and AIDS.”
Abstinence may not be discussed in isolation. The EC requires that instruction and materials include information that abstinence is the only certain way to prevent HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancy. However, it also states: “Instruction shall provide information about the value of delaying sexual activity while also providing medically accurate information on other methods of preventing HIV and other STIs and pregnancy.” “Abstinence-only” sex education, which offers abstinence as the only option for preventing STIs and unintended pregnancy, is not permitted in California public schools.
All instruction and materials must support and align with the purposes of the California Healthy Youth Act and with each other. Instruction and materials may not be in conflict with or undermine each other or any of the purposes of the law. For example, schools may not use materials that, in promoting abstinence, focus exclusively on the failure rates or perceived disadvantages of condoms or contraception.
All instruction in all grades (including elementary) must be age-appropriate, medically accurate, and appropriate for students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, and for students of all races, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations. Instruction may not promote religious doctrine.
Instruction must affirmatively recognize different sexual orientations, and be inclusive of same-sex relationships when providing examples of couples or relationships. It must also teach about gender, gender expression, gender identity, and explore the harm of negative gender stereotypes. Comprehensive sexual health education must encourage students to communicate with their parents or other trusted adults and must provide students with the knowledge and skills to develop healthy relationships and make healthy decisions about sexuality.