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School Following the Law?

Is Your School Following the Law?

The California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act (Education Code sections 51930-51939) mandates that if public schools in California offer sex education, that they have to provide comprehensive, unbiased, medically-accurate sex education. As a teacher, principal or school board member, here are some things you need to know about the mandates for schools providing sex education in California.

The Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools (DOC; 2MB; 99pp.) were approved by the California SBE on March 12, 2008.

  • Abstinence-only programs are prohibited in California’s public schools.
    Abstinence-only education offers abstinence as the only choice for preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Many abstinence-only programs are religious in nature; sexuality education cannot promote any religious ideas.
  • Sex education must be medically accurate, age-appropriate, and, starting in 7th grade must cover abstinence, effectiveness and safety of birth control, protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and decision-making.
    This means that if schools are offering sex education, they must cover these subjects. They must look to trusted sources of information, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to determine medical accuracy. All pregnancy and STD prevention devices that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration must be covered.
  • Parents must be notified that their child will have sex education or HIV/AIDS education and be allowed to see the materials before the classes start.
    If parents don’t want their children to take the class they must write a note requesting that.
  • Teachers of both HIV/AIDS education and sexuality education must be trained in the subject.
    Schools may use outside organizations or speakers, if they have training, but those organizations must also follow the laws when they present.
  • English language learners and students with disabilities must get sexuality and HIV/AIDS education that is right for them.
    Schools must make sure that all students can get sexuality and HIV/AIDS education in a way that works for them.
  • Sexuality education must respect and address the needs of students of all sexual orientations.

For more detailed information on the California Comprehensive Sexual and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act visit the California Department of Education.

Developed by the ACLU of Northern California.
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