Sex Education - Definitions and Comparisons

Latest addition : September 6, 2009

Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education

SIECUSSexuality Information and Education Council of the United States has spent the last decades providing information on the state of sexuality education in the country, as well as policies and current research. In 1991, SIECUS first published Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education; Kindergarten-12th Grade most recently updated in 2004.

GPRHE has made a brief summary of the SIECUS guidelines – Comprehensive Sex Education – The Basics.

International Guidelines on Sexuality Education

In June, 2009, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) published a draft of International Guidelines on Sexuality Education. These comprehensive guidelines were written for the international community, and provide the foundation not only for teaching sexuality education, but how to advocate for it, whether in a developed or developing country.
In September 2009, these guidelines received criticism from some conservative groups in the United States New York Times 9/3/09, SIECUS 9/3/09.

Definitions of different types of sex education

Definitions of different types of sex education were published by Advocates for Youth in The Future of Sexuality Education: Science or Politics? (Transitions 12:3, March 2001). Even though some definitions have since become obsolete, many are still used when sex education is discussed. The same issue also includes a point by point comparison of comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only-until marriage which GPRHE uses as a starting point for discussions with parents on sex education. Definitions of Different Types of Sex Education (Advocates for Youth, 2001)

-  Abstinence-Only Education teaches abstinence as the only morally correct option of sexual expression for teenagers. It usually censors information about contraception and condoms for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancy.

- Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education teaches abstinence as the only morally correct option of sexual expression for unmarried young people. Programs funded under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act must censor information about contraception and condoms for the prevention of STDs and unintended pregnancy. (For a brief outline of the federal guidelines for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs)

- Abstinence-Centered Education – Another term normally used to mean abstinence-only education.

- Comprehensive Sexuality Education teaches about abstinence as the best method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancy, but also teaches about condoms and contraception to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and of infection with STDs, including HIV. It also teaches interpersonal and communication skills and helps young people explore their own values, goals, and options.

- Abstinence-Based Education – Another term normally used to mean comprehensive sexuality education.

- Abstinence-Plus Education – Another term normally used to mean comprehensive sexuality education(and currently used by many state legislators in attempts to introduce or modify sex education legislation e.g. in Utah).