Sexuality education includes human growth and development; personal skills; relationships; disease control and prevention; sexual health and behavior; family life; and societal and cultural issues.
Sexuality is complex and it encompasses emotional, physical and social changes and factors. It includes gender, gender identity, body image, and sexual orientation. Sexuality and family life is one of seven content areas presented in the Rhode Island Comprehensive Health Instructional Outcomes.
Comprehensive sexuality programs should be based on theoretical approaches that have been demonstrated to be effective in influencing health-related risk behaviors. There should be a theoretical background for sexuality education programs in order to affect social norms, behavior and to build personal skills. Many adolescents are at risk because they need information, skills, health services and support they need to make well-informed, responsible decisions.
Adolescence is a time for exploring one’s sexuality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth may not feel comfortable or safe exploring their sexuality due to social norms, school climate and community influences. Therefore, LGBTQ youth may need additional support and information in order to make well-informed and responsible decisions. See the National School Boards Association FAQs on Transgender Students in Schools.
Teen pregnancy is linked to critical social issues — poverty and income, overall child well-being, out-of-wedlock births, responsible fatherhood, health issues, education, child welfare, and risky health behaviors. Pregnancy and parenting have a significant impact on a girls' ability to stay in school. Approximately 30% of teens drop out of school following a pregnancy. Data suggest that reducing unplanned pregnancy will increase the proportion of children born into circumstances that better support their growth and development.
RI Department of Education