Comprehensive Sexuality Education

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) supports A.6616/S.2584A, which would amend the education law, in relation to comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

This legislation would require each public and charter school to provide students in grades kindergarten through twelve with comprehensive sexuality education. It would require the commissioner of education in consultation with the commissioner of health to develop a sexuality education program, with input from experts, that includes instructional tools and materials, exemplar lesson plans and best practice instructional resources. It also instructs local boards of education or trustees of the cities and school districts of the state that chose not to adopt the model curriculum approved by the state board of education, to establish advisory groups made up of teachers, parents, school officials, members of the school board or trustees and other community members to make recommendations regarding the curriculum, content, and evaluation of the sexuality education program.

Comprehensive sexuality education that is medically accurate, inclusive, trauma informed, evidence based and age appropriate would be beneficial to students across the state. Comprehensive sexuality education has positive effects, including increasing the overall health and well-being of young people.[1] Furthermore, a comprehensive sexuality education program that is guided by the National Sexuality Education Standards (NSED) can be a successful primary prevention strategy for sexual violence.[2] In addition to that, comprehensive sexuality education has been shown to help decrease rates of unplanned teen pregnancies.[3]

The nine principles of effective prevention programming related to violence prevention include principles such as comprehensive approaches, varied teaching methods, sufficient dosage, properly timed, sociocultural relevance and well-trained staff.[4] Creating a comprehensive sexuality education program that has these principles can help create the cultural change that is necessary to prevent sexual violence and other forms of violence.

While there has been progress made to prevent sexual violence and other forms of victimization through the Enough is Enough law, there is additional work that needs to be done. Students really need to develop the knowledge and skills, prior to entering college, about topics such as consent, healthy sexuality, healthy relationships, bodily autonomy, etc. Mandating comprehensive sexuality education will help provide that firm foundation and can lead to a reduction in sexual violence and other forms of violence in the State of New York.

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[1] UNESCO, Why comprehensive sexuality education is important (Jun. 19, 2018). Retrieved Mar. 8 2021.

[2] Schneider, M., & Hirsh, J. S. (2020). Comprehensive sexuality education as a primary prevention strategy for sexual violence perpetration. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 21(3), 439–455. https://doi. org/10.1177/1524838018772855

[3] Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging Answers 2007: New Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: Power to Decide (formerly The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy).

[4] Nation, M., Crusto, C., Wandersman, A., Kumpfer, K. L., Seybolt, D., Morrissey-Kane, E., & Davino, K. (2003). What works in prevention: Principles of Effective Prevention Programs. American Psychologist, 58, 449-456.

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