Educational standards are important in that they set clear and measurable goals, inform instruction, and help measure achievement. When developing and implementing sexuality education in the classroom, important components include preservice teacher training, professional development and ongoing support and mentoring for teachers, clear school policies that support sexuality education implementation, a sequential age-appropriate curriculum that allows students to practice key skills and assessment tools for all of these elements.
The Future of Sex Education Initiative stated sexuality education standards should accomplish the following:
- Provide a framework for curriculum development, instruction and student assessment.
- Reflect the research-based characteristics of effective sexuality education.
- Be informed by relevant health behavior theories and models.
- Focus on health within the context of the world in which students live.
- Focus on the emotional, intellectual, physical and social dimensions of sexual health.
- Teach functional knowledge and essential personal and social skills that contribute directly to healthy sexuality.
- Focus on health promotion, including both abstinence from and risk reduction pertaining to unsafe sexual behaviors.
- Consider the developmental appropriateness of material for students in specific grade spans.
- Include a progression from more concrete to higher order thinking skills.
- Allow for the integration of more general health content as appropriate.
Classroom Management Tips for Sex Education Educators
Marshall (2018) believes that comprehensive sexuality educators need to have a more structured approach when it comes to classroom management. She notes that with an increased potential for inappropriate comments and potential teasing due to the content area, having a very structured curriculum will prevent the discussion from getting derailed. Marshall (2018) also notes that there is a challenge with sex education teachers being the sole center of attention as they present material that may be unfamiliar to them and emotionally charged. She suggests using a PowerPoint to help provide this structure for the educator and also to help keep everyone focused on the content of the material and not the teacher. Marshall (2018) recommends providing open-ended questions to students to allow them the opportunity to think about their beliefs and values around sexual health and relationships in addition to providing a short summaries of medically-accurate information at the end of each presentation and help providing them with the correct terminology, speaking appropriately about sex in front of their peers, and applying what they’d just learned to a real-life situation.
Resources for Educators
• National Sexuality Education Standards: Guidance on the essential core content and national standards of sex education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades K–12. https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/National-Sexuality-Education-Standards.pdf
• Kim Marshall’s sex education pre- and post-test, summaries of lessons, and other resources.
• It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley (Candlewick, 2009).
• The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment. A report by Richard Weissbourd, with Trisha Ross Anderson, Alison Cashin, and Joe McIntyre for Making Caring Common. The website provides tips and other resources for parents and educators.
• UNFPA (2018) Comprehensive Sexuality Education https://esaro.unfpa.org/en/publications/regional-comprehensive-sexuality-education-resource-package-out-school-young-people
Apex Learning (2021). Three 3 Reasons Standards are Essential to Educational Success. https://www.apexlearning.com/blog/3-reasons-standards-are-essential-to-educational-success
Future of Sex Education Initiative. (2012). National sexuality education standards: Core content and skills, K-12 [a special publication of the Journal of School Health]. Retrieved from
Marshall, K. (2018). Teaching sex education: 7 key questions. KAPPAN. Phi Delta Kappa International. https://kappanonline.org/marshall-sex-education/