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National Sex Education Standards

The goal of the National Sex Education Standards (NSES) is to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum core content and skills needed for sex education that is age-appropriate for students in grades K–12 to be effective.

HealthSmart sexual health lessons in Grades K through 12 have been aligned to the NSES.

View the alignment to the 2020 NSES (Second Edition) >>

View the alignment to the previous NSES (First Edition) >>

Specifically, the NSES were developed to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic. The Standards:

  • Outline, based on research and extensive professional expertise, the minimum, essential, core content and skills for sex education K–12 given student needs.
  • Provide guidance for schools when designing and delivering sex education K–12 that is planned, sequential and part of a comprehensive school health education approach.
  • Provide a clear rationale for teaching sex education content and skills at different grade levels that is evidence-informed, age-appropriate and theory driven.
  • Support schools in improving academic performance by addressing a content area that is both highly relevant to students and directly related to academic success and high school graduation rates.
  • Present sexual development as a normal, natural, healthy part of human development that every school district should address.
  • Offer clear, concise recommendations for school personnel on what is age-appropriate to teach students at different grade levels.
  • Translate an emerging body of research related to school-based sex education so that it can be put into practice in the classroom.
  • Address the ever-evolving needs of students, including as it relates to emerging topics of sex and sexuality.
  • Ground the educational experience in social justice and equity, honoring the diversity of students (racial, ethnic, gender, orientation, ability, socioeconomic, as well as academic) and promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation of diversity and inclusion.