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High School – Comprehensive Sexual Health Lesson Plan

This sequence of 25 lessons from the HealthSmart high school program, including the supplemental lesson available on the HealthSmart website, provides a comprehensive sexual health education unit aligned with the HECAT Knowledge and Skills Expectations, the National Sexuality Education Standards and the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA).

See the full CHYA alignment

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Unit Key: ABST = Abstinence, Personal & Sexual Health; HIV/STI = HIV, STI & Pregnancy Prevention; NPA = Nutrition & Physical Activity; VIP = Violence & Injury Prevention*
*Note: You must have purchased these units in either print or digital format to have full access to the lesson materials.


HIV/STI Lesson 1: What Do You Know About Sexuality?

In this introductory lesson, students establish class agreements for discussion of sexual health topics and assess their current knowledge of facts and myths about sexuality and sexual health. They then explore the definition of sexuality, including different aspects of sexuality and how healthy sexuality can contribute to positive, appropriate and fulfilling relationships throughout their lives.

HIV/STI Lesson 2: Respecting Sexual Differences

Students continue learning about aspects of sexuality, with a focus on diversity challenges and respecting others. After reviewing different ways sexual identity can be expressed, students create and present scenarios about differences in gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual status. They examine the benefits of promoting respect for all the different aspects of human sexuality, and discuss the challenges and negative consequences that can arise when people disrespect sexual differences. They assess the atmosphere at their school and plan a simple advocacy campaign to encourage incoming students to behave in respectful ways.

HIV/STI Lesson 4: Understanding Affirmative Consent

This lesson begins by discussing how important communication is in pressure situations. Students review and discuss a definition of Affirmative Consent and work in small groups to explore different aspects of consent. Then they apply the things they have learned by analyzing scenarios where consent may or may not be present. The full class reviews and discusses the scenarios.

EMH Lesson 8: Building Healthy Relationships

This lesson focuses on how to build healthy relationships with family, peers and others. Students begin by discussing a parent/guardian survey they completed as homework, and think about how their family relationships can help their emotional health. They brainstorm characteristics of healthy relationships, examine how these qualities contribute to good relationships with family members and peers, and suggest ways to maintain of build these qualities in their relationships with family and friends.  Then they analyze some of their own relationships to assess characteristics and suggest ways to strengthen them.

VIP Lesson 15: Preventing Dating Violence

In this lesson, students are introduced to the problem of teen dating violence. They define dating violence and examine the different types of abuse that can occur. They compare and contrast healthy and unhealthy dating relationships and identify warning signs of dating violence After reading about and discussing why teens might stay in an unhealthy relationship, they review resources for help with dating violence.

ABST Lesson 8: Review of the Reproductive Systems

This lesson reviews reproductive anatomy and physiology, including how pregnancy happens. After taking a pretest to assess their current knowledge, students review the organs and functions of the reproductive systems.

ABST Lesson 9: Taking Care of Your Sexual Health

In this lesson, students read about taking care of sexual health and find answers to particular questions. They learn about the importance of self-exams and how to do them. They discuss why it is important to take responsibility for their sexual health and have a parent or trusted adult to talk to about any concerns. Then they offer advice on some common sexual health issues teens might have.

NPA Lesson 13: Influences on Body Image

This lesson examines influences on body image and the importance of a positive body image. After defining body image, students examine things that influence their view of their bodies, with an emphasis on the unrealistic body images often portrayed in advertising and other media. Students then identify ways to reinforce a positive view of one’s body and overcome negative influences on body image.

ABST Lesson 10: Abstinence: What’s in It for Me?

In this lesson, students begin to define and explore the concept of sexual abstinence and consider how it can apply to their lives. After discussing the various choices people can make about sexual activity, they work in pairs to brainstorm benefits of being sexually abstinent, and come up with solutions for challenges to an abstinence choice. Then they consider a variety of ways teens can express feelings of sexual attraction toward others and evaluate which of these ways are safe and healthy and support the choice to be abstinent.

ABST Lesson 13: Setting Limits to Support Abstinence

In this lesson, students learn the importance of setting personal limits to support being sexually abstinent and taking care of their sexual health. They consider various situations or activities that could lead to pressure to become sexually active, and classify these according to the challenge each poses to a choice to be abstinent. They use their analysis of the pressure situations to discuss the kinds of personal limits that could help them avoid pressure and remain abstinent. Then they identify people who can support them in sticking with a choice to be abstinent.

ABST Lesson 14: Making Decisions to Support Abstinence

In this lesson, students learn the importance of setting personal limits to support being sexually abstinent and taking care of their sexual health. They consider various situations or activities that could lead to pressure to become sexually active, and classify these according to the challenge each poses to a choice to be abstinent. They use their analysis of the pressure situations to discuss the kinds of personal limits that could help them avoid pressure and remain abstinent. Then they identify people who can support them in sticking with a choice to be abstinent.

HIV/STI Lesson 5: Avoiding Pregnancy

In this lesson, students learn about using birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy. After examining the potential negative consequences of becoming a teen parent, they go on a fact hunt to learn about particular methods of birth control, and participate in a class discussion to review main points. To summarize and assess their knowledge, students read several scenarios about sexually active couples and suggest the best birth control method(s) for each one.

HIV/STI Lesson 6: STIs: The Facts

In this lesson, students review facts about common STIs. They work in small groups to brainstorm what they know about how STI’s are transmitted, symptoms, testing, treatment and prevention, and any question they have about STIs. Then they read a fact sheet and use the information to assess what they know and answer their group’s question. Then they examine reasons teens might not get tested for STIs, and identify ways to address these barriers.

HIV/STI Lesson 7: HIV: The Facts

In this lesson, students learn facts about HIV. After learning the definition of HIV, they take a fact or myth quiz to test what they know about it. They read more about HIV and place behavior cards on a continuum to identify low-risk and high-risk activities for HIV. They then discuss ways to avoid the risk of getting HIV.

HIV/STI Lesson 9: Assessing & Avoiding STI Risks

In this lesson, students examine behaviors that increase the risk for STIs and learn strategies for avoiding these risks. They participate in a group activity that illustrates the risk of having serial or overlapping sexual partners. They brainstorm ways people can be sexually responsible and lower their risk of STIs. Then they analyze some example scenarios to evaluate the characters’ STI risks and make recommendations for reducing the risk.

HIV/STI Lesson 10: Getting Tested for HIV, Other STD & Pregnancy

In this lesson, students apply what they know about sexual responsibility to the issue of HIV, STI and pregnancy testing. After reviewing the potential risks that accompany the choice to be sexually active, they discuss why it’s important for people to know their STI/HIV status as well as that of any potential sexual partner. They work in small groups to read about testing and identify basic information. Then they review places testing is available in the community. As homework, students are assigned to visit or research local testing resources and prepare a report.

ABST Lesson 15: Resisting Sexual Pressure

Students learn about refusal skills that will help them stick to their personal limits and resist pressure to engage in sexual behaviors. They brainstorm pressure lines and other things someone might say or do to convince another person to have sex and think about the techniques being used. Then they learn about refusal skills, including clear NO statements, alternative actions and delay tactics. They see these refusal skills modeled by the teacher, then practice using them in pairs to resist different pressure lines. They also practice ways to show they respect another person's refusal.

ABST Lesson 16: Roleplay Practice: Saying NO to Sexual Activity

Students practice refusal skills using roleplays. After watching demonstration roleplays to review effective refusal skills, students complete a half-scripted roleplay by writing responses to pressure lines. They practice their roleplays in pairs and receive feedback on their refusal skills. Then they create their own situations, pressure lines and refusal lines and perform their original roleplays.

HIV/STI Lesson 11: Using Condoms

In this lesson, students learn the steps to proper condom use. After reviewing the importance of using latex or polyurethane condoms to help reduce the risk of STI/HIV, the teacher performs a condom demonstration and reviews the steps. Student practice putting cards with the steps in the correct order, then practice in pairs using actual condoms. They discuss where to get condoms and complete a homework assignment to research the availability of condoms from local stores and other resources.

HIV/STI Lesson 12: Negotiating Condom Use

In this lesson, students learn strategies for planning ahead and negotiating condom use. After reviewing the importance of using condoms if sexually active, they examine steps for planning ahead to make using condoms easier. They learn about negotiation skills and discuss how these skills can support condom use. Then they complete an activity sheet in which they apply the negotiating skills they have learned to prepare them to talk to a partner about using condoms.

HIV/STI Lesson 14: My Commitment to Protect Myself

In this lesson, students consider their own personal commitment to healthy behaviors that will help protect their sexual health. They review what they know about avoiding sexual health risks, including being sexually abstinent or taking steps to help prevent pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, if sexually active. Then they decide what their own commitment will be, and how they’ll either protect a choice to be abstinent, or take steps to reduce the risk for themselves and their partners if they are or decide to become sexually active.

VIP Lesson 17: Understanding Sexual Exploitation

This lesson helps students recognize and protect themselves from sexual exploitation. After establishing group agreements, they define terms and explore examples. Then they apply what they’ve learned to analyze some scenarios involving high school students. They discuss how to recognize a potentially exploitive situation or relationship, both in person and online, including warning signs to watch for, and discuss why it is wrong to manipulate or force another person into having sex. They are presented with and given the option of researching some national resources that offer information and support for victims of sexual exploitation. Then they practice how to ask for help from a trusted adult for themselves or a friend.

VIP Lesson 18: Understanding Sexual Abuse

This lesson helps students understand and seek help for sexual abuse. After reviewing group agreements, students explore the definition of abuse. They examine some myths and facts about sexual abuse, with an emphasis on understanding that sexual abuse is never a victim’s fault, and discuss why it is important for survivors of abuse to get help. They identify adults they could go to for help and learn about national and local resources they could turn to if they or a friend were being sexually abused.

VIP Lesson 19: Protecting Yourself

This lesson helps students practice some steps they can take to help protect themselves from sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. After reviewing group agreements, students complete an activity sheet to identify areas of personal vulnerability by assessing what situations or pressure lines would be hardest for them to resist. Then they examine techniques people who abuse or exploit others might use to pressure someone. They discuss why it is important to trust their feelings if a situation feels uncomfortable, if someone is pressuring them around sex, or if they think they might be at risk for abuse or exploitation. While reinforcing that sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault, the teacher reviews things students can do to protect themselves from unwanted advances. Students work in small groups to write and practice assertive refusals for a variety of risky situations. They complete an activity sheet to help them personalize the learning and think about the best ways they could protect themselves from abuse or exploitation.

Supplemental Lesson: Pregnancy Options

This lesson examines the potential outcomes and options for a pregnancy. Students consider the thoughts and feelings a young person who is experiencing a pregnancy might have, then learn about pregnancy options through a reading sheet and teacher-led discussion that covers continuing the pregnancy to parenting, continuing the pregnancy and creating an adoption plan, continuing the pregnancy to safe surrender and electively ending the pregnancy through abortion. They work in pairs to list healthy actions someone can take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, and discuss why prenatal care is important if a person decides to continue a pregnancy. Then they work in small groups to read sample scenarios and explore the decision-making process of a person who is experiencing a pregnancy.