Sexual Health Education

Implementing the Healthy Youth Act

In the 2007 legislative session, law makers passed a bill called the Healthy Youth Act for medically accurate sexual health education. The Washington State law (RCW 28A.300.475) says that medically and scientifically accurate means information that is verified or supported by research in compliance with scientific methods. It is published in peer-reviewed journals and is recognized as accurate by objective professional organizations and agencies with expertise in the field of sexual health. These agencies including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This law requires sexual health education programs taught in public schools meet the following criteria:

  • Be medically and scientifically accurate.
  • Adhere to the 2005 Department of Health (DOH) / Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Guidelines for Sexual Health Information and Disease Prevention (PDF).
  • Teach abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
  • Be age-appropriate.
  • Be appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation.

The Healthy Youth Act does not require that schools provide sexual health education.

In 2008, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Health conducted a review of commonly used sexual health education programs in Washington schools based on the 2005 Guidelines for Sexual Health and Disease Prevention. Please see OSPI's website for the findings from the review process. If you have any questions regarding the information contained here, please email us at Questions about the curricula should be directed to the authors.