This is a glossary with terms that you might encounter while working in the education field and policy.
This resource is good for educators learning the language, youth looking for definitions or working in reproductive justice organizations that try to change policy, and parents who are trying to understand reproductive justice.
Click here to read the full glossary.
Amplify is a project of Advocates for Youth. Advocates for Youth champions efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health.
Advocates for Youth envisions a society that views sexuality as normal and healthy and treats young people as a valuable resource. The core values of Rights, Respect, and Responsibility animate this vision. Amplify also has information on sexual health campaigns by state and by international cities.
To read more about Amplify, click here.
Scarleteen is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and website geared towards young people in their teens and 20s. Their website provides articles, guides, factsheets, in-depth advice answers, extensive external resource lists and a collective blog written by young people.
Topics addressed include:
- sexual identity
- sex & sexuality
- sexual health
- pregnancy & parenting
- abuse & assault
- sexual politics
- questions and answers
Go to Scarleteen Website
The Future of Sex Education’s mission is to promote the institutionalization of comprehensive sexuality education in public schools. One of their most important accomplishments is the new National Sexuality Education Standards to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum core content for sexuality education. Click here to download the National Sexuality Education Standards as a free handy PDF document.
FoSE has also published other useful resources, including a Public Education Primer, School Health Primer (coming soon), a Glossary of Education Terms, and The Future of Sex Education: A Strategic Framework.
Visit the Future of Sex Education webpage by clicking here.
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is a not-for-profit, interdisciplinary professional organization that includes educators, sexuality counselors and sex therapists, AASECT members such as physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals, clergy members, lawyers, sociologists, marriage and family counselors and therapists, family planning specialists and researchers, as well as students in relevant professional disciplines.
The mission and priority of AASECT is to promote understanding of human sexuality and healthy sexual behavior. They provide various resources including sexuality education certification, career mentorship, and monthly professional newsletter.
You can also connect with them via Facebook and Twitter.
LGBTQ youth commonly experience high rates of discrimination and harassment in school but are often not protected under school policy. In addition, most sex education programs do not cover LGBTQ topics and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs further propagate negative sentiment towards these students.
This fact sheet published by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), provides data and information regarding key issues faced by LGBTQ youth. Topics that are discussed include harassment, discrimination, legalities, sex education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth Fact Sheet. [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://www.siecus.org
Link to view the SIECUS LGBTQ fact sheet
“Resources for Families on Parent-Child Communication,” published by Advocates for Youth, provides a list of resources and materials to help parents begin talking with their children about sex. Resources are organized within the categories of web sites for parents, web sites for young people, books and videos, and organizations.
All print materials can be ordered from local bookstores or via Advocate for Youth’s website.
Link to PDF of “Resources for Families on Parent-Child Communication.”
Link to webpage listing the resources that is more computer-friendly
Advocates for Youth, established in 1980, aims to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive rights. They focus on working with young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and abroad and treat young people as a valuable resource.
Advocate for Youth’s Rights. Respect. Respnsibility (3Rs) Core Values:
RIGHTS: Youth have the right to accurate and complete sexual health information, confidential reproductive and sexual health services, and a secure stake in the future.
RESPECT: Youth deserve respect. Valuing young people means involving them in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies that affect their health and well-being.
RESPONSIBILITY: Society has the responsibility to provide young people with the tools they need to safeguard their sexual health, and young people have the responsibility to protect themselves from too-early childbearing and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
Their website contains information such as:
They also publish a variety of publications ranging from topics such as “Peer Education” to “State Facts” and “Abstinence Only Programs.”
You can connect with Advocates for Youth via Facebook, Twitter, & Tumblr
Advocates for Youth is an organization that is
Dedicated to creating programs and advocating for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.
The Science and Success (2nd ed. 2008): Sex Education and Other Programs That Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections publication highlights 26 U.S Based programs that have been proven effictive at delaying sexual initiation or reducing sexual risk taking among teens.
- 14 out of 26 of the programs demonstrated a statistically significant delay in the timing of first sex among youth.
- 14 out of 26 of the programs increased use of condoms
- 9 out of 26 demonstrated an increase of other forms of contraception
- 13 out of 26 showed a reduction in the number of sex partners and/or an increase in monogamy among participants
- 7 out of 26 assisted sexually active youth to reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse
- 10 out of 26 helped reduce the incidence of unprotected sex.
- 13 out of 26 programs showed a decline in tenn pregnancy, HIV or other STIs.
- 9 out of 26 showed a significant impact on teen pregnancy
- 4 out of 26 showed a reduced trend in STIs
- 6 programs achieved improvements in youth’s receipt of health care.
23 of the programs listed in the publication include information about absitence and contraception. The remaining three are programs for early childhood interventions and one is service learning program.
To visit Advocates For Youth’s website click HERE.
For the full publication: Programs that work 2008 full rpt
For the Summary of Programs: Programs that work 2008 Exec Sum
This fact sheet issued by ICAH reviews the recommendations for Sexual Health Education in schools by Medical and Public Health organizations such as:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Medical Association
- World Health Organization
- American Public Health Association
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Society for Adolescent Medicine
These organizations recommend that Sexual Health Education programs should include the following topics:
- Basics of reproduction
- Human development (puberty)
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Contraceptives and other barrier methods
- Communication and behavioral skills (negotiation, refusal, etc)
- Relationships (familial, sexual, platonic)
- Information about access and/or condom availability
- Sexual orientation and gender
- Decision -making, values, and responsibility
In addition to these topics, some organizations have further recommendations or guidance on Sexual Health Education.
To view the fact sheet click HERE
For further information regarding National Education Standards for Sexual Health Education please visit Futureofsexeducation.org for PDF handouts of the standards for grades K-12.
In 2007 the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy issued a report on New Research that Identifies Effictive Teen Sex Education Programs and Other Interventions.
The report, conducted by Dr. Douglas Kirby, PhD, evaluates 115 programs. Two thirds of the programs examined focus on abstinence and contraception and their positive effect on teen behavior.
The report also includes results in regards to access to contraception, condoms and whether educational programs that include parents and teens have any affect on whether teens engage in sexual activity.
You can view the summary of the report here.
Or the full report here.
Visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
This article, written by Brigid McKeon (Advocates for Youth) provides an overview of the effectiveness and characteristics of comprehensive sex education and the dangers of abstinence-only programs .
By age 18, 70% of U.S. females and 62% of U.S. males have initiated vaginal sex. Adolescents have a fundamental human right to comprehensive and accurate sexual health information in order to make healthy decisions about sex and healthy sexual behaviors.
The article provides statistics and data supporting several points–
- Comprehensive sex education is effective and does not promote sexual risks
- Abstinence-Only programs are dangerous, ineffective and inaccurate
- Medical organizations, parents and the public support comprehensive sex education
The fact sheet also includes characteristics of effective sex education as well as medical and public health recommendations to support comprehensive sex education.
Link to “Effective Sex Education”
“17 Characteristics at a Glance” is taken from Kirby et al.’s report, Sex and HIV Education Programs for Youth: Their Impact and Important Characteristics and their publication, Tools to Assess Characteristics of Effective Sex and STD/HIV Education Programs (TAC). This is a brief one page description of the 17 common characteristics of programs found to be effective in changing behaviors that lead to STD, HIV and unintended pregnancy among young people.
To identify those characteristics, Kirby and his colleagues conducted a systematic review of 83 studies of HIV prevention and sex education programs that were from both the developed and developing world. About 66% of these programs showed positive behavior changes. The researchers then conducted a more in-depth analysis of characteristics of these curriculum-based programs that showed positive changes.
Kirby, D., Rolleri, L. A., Wilson, M. M. Tools to Assess Characteristics of Effective Sex and STD/HIV Education Programs (TAC). 2007.
Link to PDF of “17 Characteristics At A Glance”
The Curricula Assessment Tool was designed by the ICAH to serve as a guide for Teachers, Administrators, Students, Parents and Members of the community working to ensure that the sex education curriculum being taught meets high standards for content and focus.
Acting as a checklist, the form provides the items required by the state of Illinois to be included in the sex education curriculum as well as items that meet the health learning standards for the State Board of Education.
You can view and download the form below.
Curriculum Assessment Tool 2007
Plain Talk is a program developed by the Annie E Casey Foundation and was launched into five urban communities in 1993. The program is a neighborhood based initiative aimed at helping adults, parents, and community leaders develop the skills they need to communicate effectively with young people about reducing adolescent sexual risk taking. Plain Talk has been replicated in multiple communities across the United States.
The Goals of Plain talk are to:
- Create consensus among parents and adults about the need to protect sexually active youth by encouraging early and consistent use of contraceptives.
- To give parents and other community adults the information and skills they need to communicate more effectively with teens about responsible behavior.
- To improve adolescent access to high-quality, age-appropriate and readily available reproductive health care, including contraception.
To find more information regarding the Plain Talk program visit The Annie E Casey Foundation and conduct a search for Plain Talk.
To view a summary of the Plain Talk Program, click the link below. Plaintalk.org is no longer a working web address for this organization.
Replicating Successful Programs- Plain Talk 2006
Over the past 25 years, Congress has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. However, no professional scientific study has found these programs broadly effective. This fact sheet, compiled by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), lists several professional study published in peer-reviewed journals with their findings about abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Several interesting conclusions include:
- According to the researchers, in communities where there are a higher proportion of pledgers, overall STD rates were significantly higher than in other settings. Specifically, in communities where more than 20% of young adults had taken virginity pledges, STD rates were 8.9% compared to 5.5% in communities with few pledgers.
- Further research found that, among those young people who have not had vaginal intercourse,pledgers were more likely to have engaged in both oral and anal sex than their non-pledging peers. In fact, among virgins, male and female pledgers were six times more likely to have had oral sex than non-pledgers, and male pledgers were four times more likely to have had anal sex than those who had not pledged.
- The average age of sexual debut was the same for the abstinence-only-until-marriage participants and control groups (14 years, 9 months).
Citation: SIECUS (2008). What the Research Says About Abstinence Only.
Link to “What Research Says About Abstinence Only Until Marriage Programs“
In 2005, the federal government planned to spend $170 million dollars on abstinence-only sex education programs under the Bush administration. At the request of Rep. Henry Waxman, this report evaluates the content of the most popular abstinence-only curricula used by grantees of the largest federal abstinence initiative at the time, SPRANS (Special Programs of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education). Through SPRANS, the Department of Health and Human Services provides grants to community organizations that teach abstinence-only curricula to youth. The curricula used in SPRANS and other federally funded programs are not reviewed for accuracy by the federal government.
The report finds that over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of SPRANS grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. Some examples include:
- None of the curricula provides information on how to select a birth control method and use it effectively. However, several curricula exaggerate condom failure rates in preventing pregnancy.
- Two other curricula understate condom effectiveness by neglecting to explain that failure rates represent the chance of pregnancy over the course of a year. One states: “Couples who use condoms to avoid a pregnancy have a failure rate of 15%.”50 The other claims: “The typical failure rate for the male condom is 14% in preventing pregnancy.”51 These statements inaccurately suggest that the chance of pregnancy is 14% to 15% after each act of protected intercourse. In addition, they do not make clear that most condom “failure” is due to incorrect or inconsistent use.
The report provides details about the following conclusions–
- Contain false information about the effectiveness of contraceptives
- Contain false information about the risks of abortion
- Blur religion and science
- Treat stereotypes about girls and boys as scientific fact
- Contain scientific errors
Citation: United States House of Representatives (2004). The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs.
Link to “Waxman Report- Abstinence Only Programs”
There has been an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education and the impacts these two programs have on adolescent sexual health and behaviors. Over the past 15 years, many researchers have studied the impact of abstinence programs on adolescents’ sexual knowledge, behaviors, and intentions but Dr. Kirby considers these research studies poorly designed and not objective. By reviewing and evaluating both abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs, Dr. Kirby hopes to come clearer conclusions as to which program is most effective.
Dr. Kirby rigorously reviewed and evaluated 56 studies that assessed the impact of such curricula (8 that evaluated 9 abstinence programs and 48 that evaluated comprehensive programs) and studied whether these caused positive or negative changes to adolescents’ behaviors.
Dr. Kirby’s study results indicated that most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sex and only 3 of 9 programs had any significant positive effects on any sexual behavior. On the other hand, about two thirds of comprehensive programs showed strong evidence that they positively affected young people’s sexual behavior, including both delaying initiation of sex and increasing condom and contraceptive use among important groups of youth.
Dr. Kirby concludes that:
- Some evidence (but no strong evidence) currently supports the assumption that abstinence program is effective at delaying first sex for adolescents
- Abstinence programs are not more effective at delaying initiative of sex compared to comprehensive sex education programs
- Abstinence programs are not sufficiently effective in eliminating teen’s sexual risks or eliminating comprehensive sexual education programs
- There is stronger evidence that comprehensive sex education can delay initiation of sex and increase contraception use
Citation: Kirby, D. B. (2008). The Impact Of Abstinence And Comprehensive Sex And STD/HIV Education Programs On Adolescent Sexual Behavior. Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, 5(3), 18-27.
Link to “The Impact of Abstinence and Comprehensive Sex and STD-HIV Education Programs on Adolescent Sexual Behavior”
The article first presents a brief history of the rise of abstinence-only programs that were first authorized under the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) in 1981. The article also describes post-1996 Title V funding and the requirements of the “eight-point definition” that teachers had to adopt when teaching sex education if their state received funding.
The article also talks about the increased criticisms that researchers and leading medical professional organizations expressed towards abstinence-only programs in the early 2000’s. These criticisms were greatly supported by the results from a evaluative research study* mandated by the Congress and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. The study found no statistically significant beneficial impact on young people’s sexual behaviors after they attended abstinence-only sex education programs.
Recently, sex education has started to veer away from abstinence-only education. In 2007, Congress rejected the Bush administration’s recommendation to increase funding for abstinence-only education programs and President Obama started his presidency in favor of “comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods.” Advocates for comprehensive approaches are looking towards the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act that will authorize at least $50 million annually for 5 years to support state programs that operate under an eight-point definition of “responsible education” and have flexibility in terms of curriculum development. Lastly, the article also examines the the terms, “medical accuracy” in regards to sex education.
Citation: Boonstra, H. D. (2009). Advocates Call for a New Approach After the Era of ‘Abstinence-Only’ Sex Education. Guttmacher Policy Review, 12(1).
* Trenholm, C., Devaney, B., Fortson, K., Quay, L., Wheeler, J., & Clark, M. (2007). Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
Link to “Advocates Call for a New Approach After the Era of ‘Abstinence-Only’ Sex Education.“
SexEdLibrary, a website designed by the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), is the most comprehensive online sex education resource. They’ve analyzed hundreds of lesson plans from many sources to offer easy access to the very best information on topics such as sexual and reproductive health, puberty, abstinence, relationships, sexual orientation, body image, self-esteem, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, unintended pregnancy, and more
The website is divided into the following sections:
Click here to access the SexEdLibrary website
Click here to send feedback or email SexEdLibrary
Click here to access the SIECUS website