Sexuality education – better known as sex education or sex ed – is one of the most important steps we can take toward helping young people be healthy, safe, and responsible – and stay that way for the rest of their lives.
Our position on sexuality education is shaped by decades of peer-reviewed research. Our position rooted in proven, effective practices, and is not based on any ideology. And, we're not the only ones who favor sexuality education: A full 91.8% of parents of North Carolina public schoolchildren support school-based sexuality education.
Peer-reviewed research has conclusively shown:
- Sexuality education is good for young people and does not “promote promiscuity” as some people claim
- Young people who receive sexuality education wait longer to have sex than young people who do not receive sexuality education
- Young people who receive comprehensive sexuality education are more likely to wait to have sex, use condoms and/or contraceptives when they become sexually active, and have healthier relationships than young people who do not receive sexuality education or young people who receive abstinence-only-until-marriage education
Unfortunately, not all sexuality education is created equal. We believe sexuality education should be factual, age appropriate, inclusive, and effective.
Based on decades of research, we believe:
- Organizations should select evidence-based programs/curricula whenever possible. These programs have been evaluated and proven to be effective. Using effective programs helps ensure positive outcomes for participants, as well as a wise investment for the organization.
- Information given should be medically and factually accurate. Research has shown that providing incorrect information can lead young people to make unhealthy and unsafe decisions later in life.
- Information given should be age-appropriate. This means young people should understand concepts like puberty, abuse, sex, contraception, HIV/STD prevention, and deciding about sex before they are likely to encounter them or need them in real life.
- Information given should be objective and nonjudgmental. This leaves space for parents to communicate their values, rules and expectations to their own children.
- Information given should help all participants with regard for the participants’ needs, backgrounds, and likely experiences. This includes incorporating cultural competency, LGBT inclusivity, and an understanding of participants’ levels of sexual experience.
- Fear-based and shame-based tactics should be avoided. These messages are ineffective and often have the very negative consequences of deterring young people from protecting themselves or accessing medical care.
To learn more about sexuality education, visit our Healthy Youth Act FAQs.
*Why the term “sexuality education”? All good sex education programs encompass more than just sex and/or safety. Good programs also cover topics like decision making, relationships, acting on values, influences from peers and the media, gender stereotypes, personal goals, and more. Together, these make programs more about a person’s overall sexuality than they are about sexual activity.