Sexual Health Education

Instruction is based upon the foundation that abstention from sexual intercourse is the surest and most responsible way to prevent unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, and consequent emotional distress.

Comprehensive Sexual Health Education

Standards-Based Health Education develops students’ health literacy skills aligned to National Health Education Standards. Health literacy skills are developed in the context of Priority Health Topics. Sexual Health and Responsibility is one of eight Priority Health Topics addressed in Health Education.

Comprehensive sexual health education helps students understand and navigate their development and growth as they progress from childhood through puberty and adolescence. Effective, comprehensive sexual health education provides students with the age-appropriate, medically accurate content and skills to know and be able to do the following:

  • communicate with parents, guardians, and other trusted adults about relationships and sexuality;
  • develop healthy relationships (e.g., family, friends, peers, partners) that are based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation;
  • prevent, respond to, and get help for unsafe, unwanted, and inappropriate words, touch, and actions;
  • access valid and reliable health services and community resources;
  • manage the social, emotional, and physical changes that occur during puberty and adolescence;
  • consider how their choices affect their own health and well-being and that of others;
  • make healthy decisions to avoid or reduce the risks of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STI);
  • understand laws related to sexual health and sexual violence prevention; and
  • improve the school climate (e.g., reducing harassment and bullying, increasing safety for LGBTQ+ youth).

Sexual Health and Sexuality Among Hawai‘i’s Teens

Hawai‘i’s students are at risk of experiencing unintended pregnancies and the spread of STIs, including HIV/AIDS.  Data from the Hawai‘i Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2019) show that statewide:

  • 17.6% of Hawai‘i’s high school students were currently sexually active (had sexual intercourse with at least one person in the last three months).  Among students who were currently sexually active, during their last intercourse:
    • 20.7% drank alcohol or used drugs beforehand.
    • 45.5% used a condom.
    • 29.4% used a birth control method (pills; an IUD or implant; or a shot, patch, or ring).
    • 16.0% did not use any method to prevent pregnancy.
  • 8.6% of Hawai‘i’s high school students and 9.7% of Hawai‘i’s middle school students experienced physical dating violence in the past 12 months by someone they were dating or going out with (among students who dated or went out with someone).
  • 10.8% of Hawai‘i’s high school students and 6.1% of Hawai‘i’s middle school students experienced sexual violence by anyone in the past 12 months.
  • 47.3% of Hawai‘i’s high school students and 30.1% of Hawai‘i’s middle school students had parents or other adults in their family talk with them about what they expected them to do or not to do when it came to sex.

Hawai‘i Youth Risk Behavior Survey results are available at the Hawai‘i Health Data Warehouse.  Additional LGBTQ+ youth data is available in the Department of Health’s Hawai‘i Sexual and Gender Minority Health Data Reports.

Hawai‘i’s Sexual Health Education

Several state laws and policies help prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STIs through comprehensive sexual health education.

  • State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) §321-11.1) establishes requirements for any state-funded sexuality health education program.

  • Board Policy 103-5 Sexual Health Education was passed by the Hawai‘i State Board of Education (Board) on June 16, 2015, requiring the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) to implement comprehensive sexual health education.  Board Policy 103-5 Sexual Health Education replaced Board Policy 2110 Abstinence-Based Education, which was established in 1995.  Board Policy 103-5 Sexual Health Education:

    • Is consistent with state law (HRS §321-11.1).

    • Includes instruction to develop students’ knowledge and skills that support healthy relationships, sexual health, and sexuality.

    • Emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to communicate with their parents, guardians, and/or other trusted adults and informing students of available community resources.

    • Requires that a description of the curriculum used by the school be posted on the school website and made available to parents before instruction starts.  It is recommended that schools send a letter, convene a parents’ night, or use other means of communicating to parents to inform them prior to the start of instruction.

  • Board Policy 103-8 Prophylactics in the Public Schools (renumbered Board Policy 2245), adopted by the Board in November 1994, clarifies the role of prophylactics in the public schools.

Parent/Legal Guardian Notification and Opt-Out Process

Per Board Policy 103-5 Sexual Health Education, a description of the curriculum utilized by the school shall be made available to parents/legal guardians and shall be posted on the school’s website prior to the start of any instruction.  A student shall be excused from sexual health instruction only upon the prior written request of the student’s parent or legal guardian.  A student may not be subject to disciplinary action, academic penalty, or other sanction if the student’s parent or legal guardian makes such written request.

Additionally, parents or legal guardians can also opt-out of having their children participate in instruction related to controversial issues.

Recommended Instructional Materials

Sexual Health Education

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